Monday, December 29, 2008

Bring on year 2009

These last couple of days I’ve realized something. Friendship between boys and girls is impossible, at least in the way I would want to have it. I have always assumed that it’s ok for boys and girls to randomly meet and spend evenings together watching movies or doing something else of common interest. In contrary I have noticed that this only leads to false interpretations. From my part it usually leads to the boy thinking that I have some kind of hidden agenda with my friendship, when I honestly only would like to have more male friends. Why is that so wrong? As I remember, I have never had good male friends that haven’t been connected to my ex boyfriends or female friends. That is a sad truth. I feel my life misses something because I cannot think in a boyish way. I love hearing how boys think and analyze how that differs from how we girls think. Maybe it will get easier once people think I have a boyfriend.

Yesterday for the first time, I heard something that made me have an epiphany. A male friend told me that it frightens him that I have been so much abroad, that I have experienced something. That made me think of my favorite quote of all times, which is Arabic.

It goes something like this: "who lives, sees but who travels, sees more". 

That kind of summons it, I honestly believe that I have added value to my life by travelling. And after all, I have merely started. All the persons I have met have enriched my life. This does not mean that Finnish people don’t do the same for me, but sometimes I feel that they do not challenge me in the right way. I want me and my values and thoughts to be questioned. I don’t want to meet people that always agree with me. And besides that, I want to bring awareness about my country, my city and also the minority I represent. I guess that is the role we Swedish speaking Finns automatically take when we meet people who don’t know about our existence.

I think everybody that knows me know that I love my girls, but at this point I have to point out how much I cherish my best friends. They have stood on my side since forever and continue to do so. We are very different, but in our unique way. We bring joy, laughter and love into each other’s lives and we always support each other. Today we watched again the movie of our favorite TV show of all times, Sex and the City.

Those girls are dear to us, and during all the seasons of episodes, we feel that that show has spoken to us and that we know those girls. Everybody finds him/herself in that show. What I love the most about that show is the effect it has on people. By giving it only a glance, you might think it is a show about four vain girls strolling around in New York, but it is so much more. Underneath all that glamour, lays four beautifully strong but sometimes insecure women. They are just like us. I found it funny that today one of my best friends said that she hopes we’ll stay close just like them, and whilst the four girls of SATC celebrate Samantha’s 50th, we can after seven years celebrate our 30th. Commitments like that make us look forward to the future with a smile upon our faces. After that comment, whatever comes, I know I won’t have to deal with it alone. Come what may.

New Year’s Eve is knocking on the door. At this point of the year, I like to slow down and think about what I’ve done over the last year and what I expect and look forward to during the year to come. This year it actually feels like I have managed to make a closure to a lot of things. During the past year I made an awful amount of bad choices but last year also opened a lot of doors.

I am anxious to see the beginning of the next year. I am not one of those girls who talks about a new start without doing something concrete. A new year deserves a new look, so I have reserved a hairdresser to get my hair cut on Friday the 2nd. School starts next year and I need a hair boost to motivate me. I have an important spring ahead of me. My next exam period starts in the end of January and after that I only have one 10-week-long period left at uni before my internship starts in April. Besides all this, I have found another reason to smile, on the emotional side. I’ll fill you in on that later as it progresses.

But I feel pumped, full of hope and eager, joyous feelings. Year 2009, I’m ready. Bring it on.
Saturday, December 27, 2008

Revolutionary road

So then came Christmas, the holiday dreaded by all singles. I find it funny that in Finland our leading TV channel chooses to run both Bridget Jones movies during Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Seems like they really want to rub it in your face if you’re single, and make us suffer more by reminding us of something we don’t have. I mean, there are tons of “lighter” Christmas movies, like The Holiday, Home Alone and Love Actually to mention a few, but they didn’t show those movies. Instead they chose to show movies that tell about a girl becoming every year more desperate in the hunt for the right one. Ironic.

I happen to love Christmas, which I believe is all thanks to my family that has always made it a pleasant celebration. Even though my family is small and has a lot of boiling problems beneath the surface, we all seem to get together during Christmas and celebrate the facts that Christmas is all about; cherishing and thanking each other for the year gone by. Not until recently, I wasn’t aware that there are people that hate Christmas, actually try their best to run away from it. I think that is very sad, since Christmas comes around once a year.

A lot of running. I wish that the city of Helsinki would offer more alternatives to people that do not have families or friends with which they can celebrate Christmas. I feel that it is the duty of the country of Santa to provide Christmas or at least Christmas spirit to everybody. I mean, that is the least we can do. And even though Lapland is the home of Christmas, even the capital has to share the responsibility since the city functions as a gate to Finland. I was astonished, in a bad way, of the fact that during Christmas, there is almost nothing to do in Helsinki. Stores are closed and the streets are empty. When I came home to get some things to take to my mom’s place on Christmas day, I found a ghost city even though I live close by to the center of Helsinki. I was very disappointed but also motivated. As a student of tourism, I feel it’s my duty to try to change this. Maybe raise a voice to the city of Helsinki. If nobody makes it clear that there is a lack, no actions will be taken. Seeing as I have worked for the Tourist Office of Helsinki, I’ll see what I can do.

When it comes to spending time with your family, Christmas brings matters that you wouldn’t consider during the rest of the year to the surface. As children grow older, they are faced with an ever-changing reality. I find it hard, even tough, to notice every Christmas that I and my sister are getting older and even worse, that our mother is doing it too. There is nothing more mind racking that realizing that the person that has brought you up is getting older and cannot manage to do the same things anymore, not even the things that that person in question has taught you. Realizing this gives you anxiety, almost panic. If the person who taught you to do a specific thing does not manage to do that thing anymore, it is up to you to continue the heritage. I guess it is true that with age follows higher level of responsibility, even unwanted of the kind.
Concerning Christmas, I actually enjoy the most planning the presents I give to my friends and family. There is nothing more satisfying that seeing somebody open up your present and becoming extremely happy. The talent is to notice all kind of small remarks made during the year about a person’s small and insignificant wishes, and turning those wishes into reality during Christmas. The element of surprise is vital.

I’ve noticed that people have become more family oriented when it comes to presents. I mean, nowadays, people only give presents to their immediate families and closest friends. I like to remember unexpected persons that have lightened up my year. I wish the people I met during my exchange year would live closer, so I could give them Christmas presents in person. Instead, I tried to send all of my closest friends Christmas cards, even to the other side of the world. I miss those people very much, but I am extremely happy to notice that they still remember me and that our memories will never fade out. I believe that something made us meet each other in that small town of Castellanza in north Italy. Time will make us see how our paths cross again on this revolutionary road we call life.

I was incredibly happy to hear from E, the girl I used to look after as an au pair, when I worked in Milan 2005-2006. She wrote me a letter for Christmas. When I worked in Milan, she was just four years old. Now she’s already in second grade and knows how to write and read. Amazing. As we grow older, in our mind we never grow older. It’s when you know a child and follow that child’s development that you realize how time goes by. I am very grateful for the constant contact I have with E and her family. It makes me believe that the year I spent in that family meant something, that I actually made a difference in those people’s lives.

As time passes, I can notice that people assume that my interest in Italy has decreased. That the feelings I felt towards that place slowly but definitely fade out. This is of course not true. Still, there is not one day that passes that I don’t think about Italy. Italy is not only a place for me: Italy is a sum of emotions.

A smell of fresh coffee. A marocchino, my favorite. Italy is an old lady on a small street. Nuns and munks among regular people on the underground. Italy is street signs written still by hand. Tradition. Italy is a guy or girl on a scooter, sometimes dressed even in a suit. Italy is the constant innovation things, like the pizza – from only a piece of bread to something far more, a complete dish. Italy is brochettes, lemons, rocket salad, olives, wonderful pastries, pasta, gorgonzola, focaccia, mozzarella. A true passion for food. Sunglasses. High heals. Beautiful women, and even more beautiful men. Elegancy. Buzy cities. Coffee in a bar. Lunch eaten on the street. Tractors, fields, lakes, mountains, beach, forest, houses built on a cliff. Clear blue sky and fog. Aperitivo. Graffiti. Pepperoncini. Salame. Melanzane. Zucchini. Stores for specific products, like bakeries, meat stores. Italy is music. Nightlife, huge clubs, house, djs and vocalists. Limoncello and Campari. Noise.  

Italy is smells, tastes, sounds, images and feelings. I will never forget Italy and what it gives me every day. What it stands for to me. I miss Italy every day but Italy is with me in every breath I take. Not as a place but as the emotions it awakened in me.
Monday, December 22, 2008

Future clothes

For me, clothes mean much more than just pieces of clothing you wear. Clothes show you personality and unique sense of style, if you have one. I strive to buy simple pieces of clothing that are easy to mix in order to create a style that's personal for me. I am very girly and love above all dresses. I like to use accessories to vary styles with the same pieces of clothing.

Nevertheless, I was surprised when I saw that one of the stores I usually make my online purchases from, had added four new collections that clearly show signs of the future. They are amazing!

I'll let you in on the secret, enjoy: 

Cosy design - a modern collection, with clear, straight lines. Comfortable and new materials, like shining cotton and waxed denim. Neutral colors, indigo colored details. Trendy and tempting. My favorite item: the harem pants seen on the picture (made by velvet).

Minimalism Chic - a collection where the lines between masculinity and femininity fade. Casual to official. Newcomers mixed with trendy basics. Blue color world with a hint of grey, grayish blue, dark violet and red. Style for which you need to make an effort. My favorite piece of clothing from the collection: The multicolored jeans, with a hint of blue, black and green in its denim.

Retro feminine - a collection with Eastern influences, that show in material choices: velour, wool mixes and soft cotton. Modern features. A collection for creative people. Details in blue and violet. Classy clothing, but with forms of sporty clothing wear. My favorite: Detailed dress in mint color. Material: cotton mixed with silk.

And finally, 

Bio collection - Light clothing in restrained colors of natural materials. Beautiful cuts and small details. Ecological clothing. With the clothing of this collection you can live in a relaxed way and with a good conscious from the whole day.

My favorite piece: Shirt with a great U neck and kimono inspired sleeves, made out of organic cotton.
If these collections don't make you think about how to dress next spring, it's a wonder. Take a second, make an effort and make a statement with what you wear!
Saturday, December 20, 2008

And it hurts with every heartbeat

Maybe we could make it all right
We could make it better sometime
Maybe we could make it happen baby
We could keep trying,but things will never change
So I don’t look back
Still I’m dying with every step I take
But I don’t look back
Just a little, little bit better
Good enough to waste some time
Tell me would it make you happy baby
We could keep trying, but things will never change
So I don’t look back
Still I’m dying with every step I take
But I don’t look back
We could keep trying,but things will never change
So I don’t look back
Still I’m dying with every step I take
But I don’t look back and it hurts with every heartbeat
And it hurts with every heartbeat
And it hurts with every heartbeat
And it hurts with every heartbeat
And it hurts with every heartbeat
And it hurts with every heartbeat
And it hurts with every heartbeat
It hurts wïth every heartbeat

Why do I love Helsinki? It's really this simple; I can walk home at 3 a.m. and only one out of 15 cars is a private one, the rest are taxis. I can walk home alone, even though I am a woman and I am safe. And I don't walk home alone. I walk with other people of Helsinki. And I feel safe and good. I love this city. I see great potential in it.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Only one name on the door

So yesterday was the day. The day when I came home and saw only my name starring at me on my front door. Finally the people that take care of this property had taken away I's name. I knew it was coming, in the end it was me who asked them to do it, but it still hit me straight in the face. From there on, I actually felt that I was living alone. Silly, how a name on a door can make you feel like you live with somebody even if that person physically hasn't been living with you for months. Why do we need that? I've lived before alone, but somehow now I got used to the thought that I could always ask that other somebody for help if something went wrong. I know I shouldn't depend on other people, but it's just so easy. Damn it.

Anyway, this fall has been very difficult for me. Disappointment after disappointment. Disaster after disaster. This concerning - of course - boys. Like you kind of understood from the topic, I lived with somebody and it didn't work out. After that there has been another two major disasters, when let's say I have disagreed with two gentlemen about what a relationship is all about and therefore I have been left feeling miserable. In this case, I have to say thank god for good friends.

I'm very thankful for the time I spent abroad, in Italy, because I met some fantastic people there. People that I still, after seven months since Erasmus ended for my part, can ask for advice and help. They're amazing. Just yesterday, I asked my good friend Z for some advice about what to do with boys. My dilemma has been, as many know, that I am not sure if I should start relationships with Finnish guys, when I am so clearly affected by my experiences abroad. I do not act like other Finnish girls and I certainly do not think like them. The advice Z gave me was superb.

Here's what she said "Elisabeth, the advice I have for you is that you should take a break from all relationships and only think about yourself. Leave the boys alone, let them fight for you instead. If one is about to start a relationship soon after a bad one, one certainly assures that the next one also will have bad conditions. Above this, one puts up expectations on the new guy, everything that was wrong in the last one has to be proven right in the new one. The best thing is to relax for a GOOD while before starting something new. So that you can start from square one when you meet somebody new." I think that is exactly what I am going to do. Thanks ever so much Z for making me see the reality.

Even though I said I had great friends around the world, it doesn't mean that I don't have them here in Finland. This weekend I got a real surprise. I went to a party with my sister, who's four years older than me, so she has a little bit different circles than me. Anyway, we have friends in common, and this was one of those parties where we were celebrating a common friend. It turned out that during the evening I happened to receive a note from a guy making it quite clear what his interest in me was. I think you can follow. The note was not that discreet.

The amazing part of this evening was of course that when one of my friends, who happens to know the person that gave me the note, heard about the existence of the note, he immediately felt that he had to protect me. So I got to know all about the writer of the note, and got a greater understanding why he gave it to me. I was dazzled by the fact that my friend stood up for me in that way. It made me realize that some people actually do care. I am somebody worth protecting. I felt warm inside. I guess it is a cliché but true: friends are like latherns in the dark, they don't tell you where to go, but they light up your way.