Thursday, 31 March 2011


After two days of a spring flu, I'm finally back in action. Today I sat on the library steps in the sun and waved at friends across the road. I also skipped across dry, dusty asphalt and bought a swimming costume for next summer and browsed music festivals in Finland and thought about going abroad, maybe.

(Have I ever told you what this city is like in the summer? It's lying on the grass in parks and singing in the streets. It's the sea breeze, wherever you go. Trams rattling along the polished cobblestones and sunlight on the art nouveau facades. It's fresh and it's bright and it's all one needs to be happy.)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

i don't know about my dreams

With the risk of sounding like a critic-loving hipster, this must be one of the most perfect songs in existence. That voice, that bit of piano near the end, the waves of sound. I just want to lay on the floor of my room in the slanting patch of sunlight and listen to this for a few days.

Also, the video. The video is kind of perfect too.

Monday, 28 March 2011

(more) anchors

There's something about this picture. Maybe it's just my endless fascination with tattoos. But, despite most of my sailing plans for next summer kind of falling apart, anchors bear my heart with them, as do ropes and pinrails and hardwood decks, and those delightful flying jibs.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

sunday and dreams of summer

After a night of hide and seek with friends during Earth Hour and not-quite-enough sleep, we rolled out of bed into the sunlight. A table laden with candles and breakfast. A hint of soft guitar music.

And afterwards a solitary walk around Helsinki. Spontaneously. Because the sun shone from just the right angle at Esplanadi, and I could squint and imagine the endless deep green of late summer. Because of a display window that read Do you live in the moment? 

The ice has retreated and the sea is finally open. Dreaming about taking the ferry to Suomenlinna come June, maybe leaning into someone, bumping elbows, feeling the warmth against the wind. Pointing out the little islands scattered around like memories of a dream.

Humming a song to myself, the one that goes tämä on kuitenkin minun kaupunkini, this is my city after all.


I've posted artwork by Austin Kleon before, but he just keeps on blacking words out and breaking my heart. This one's called Agoraphobia.

Friday, 25 March 2011

midnight ramblings

"I'm a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy."

J.D. Salinger: Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction

Which is all kinds of sad, really. I long for happiness, but I cower when presented with a chance to achieve it. In a way I think I'm just scared of being happy because it's something I'm not good at. And I'm scared to death by things I'm not good at.

I guess I just want people to worry about me, except not really, because I resent it when they do.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

overheard on the titanic

Austin Kleon makes poetry out of newspaper articles using a Sharpie marker and his beautiful mind. This one is called Overheard on the Titanic. Sad-making and also kind of exquisite.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

maybe not love exactly

"The questions I would have liked to ask people were, Are you in love? What are you reading?" Françoise Sagan

My answers are I'm not quite sure, maybe not love exactly and e.e. cummings. What about you?

PS. I'm dreaming of thin-soled shoes and the dry, warm cobblestones beneath them. Also of wearing dresses and cardigans and no coat on top. And pastels, striped shirts, being able to tie my hair up.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

enough now

Today I woke up and thought enough now. Enough of this nonsense, this self-indulgence, enough tears and enough of the blues. Enough oversleeping, enough lip-biting and fidgeting. Enough staring out of rain-stained train windows and enough of this wallowing.

Well, things didn't turn out quite that way. (It's Murphy's Law, isn't it? Bad things coming in clusters, spreading like an ink blot on wet paper.) And so my mother looked at me and said, It'll Get Better. And went on with Look at All the Good Things in Your Life.

And as pep talks go, that wasn't bad at all. Like tearng a plaster off a healed cut. It stings for a while and then you quit rubbing the burning patch of skin and go on with life and forget. Sometimes the scars remain but mostly things pass unnoticed, time rolls on too fast for words to keep up.

(I'm not quite sure what I feel today, I feel a bit sloppy and blurred around the edges, runny eyes and tired skin.)

anchor eyes

Marc Johns's drawings are beautiful and right now seem to match my emotions spectacularly. Anchors in my eyes, from tiredness and a slight overdose of sadness.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

i used to say i hate surprises

Some of you might remember this annoyingly elusive post from a few weeks back. Well, I finally obtained a few photos so I can tell you all about what happened.

I'd only just returned from Paris and turned eighteen. My friend, whom I shall refer to as V (because I've always wanted to refer to my friends with their initials) had told me she wanted to take me to see some kind of a show or performance on Friday night, and it was to be a Grand Surprise. So I traipsed into town wondering what it could be, like the gullible little girl I am.

V called me and told me she'd got the time wrong - the performance would start an hour later than she'd thought. She told me to come over to S, a mutual friend of ours who lived nearby. Along I went, only to find twenty of my friends singing me Happy Birthday.

And as much as I go on about hating surprises, this is one I can't not love.

My friend J turned eighteen on the same day as me, so we were given a bottle of wine each to kick off the evening. (Incidentally, I think this picture nicely demonstrates the difference between our respective personalities.)

It was a brilliant evening, made of friends and food and drink and music and the irreplaceable feeling of being fully and purely happy. V had not only planned a party, she'd also asked Antti Autio to come and play a gig for us. (He's one of my favourite artists and his live shows are incredible. My friends are still reminiscing how my face looked when Antti walked in.) V also performed one of my favourite songs for me. (Summer in the City by Regina Spektor, in case you're wondering.)

We ended the night by dancing to the Beatles on the kitchen table, and never have I ever felt as cared for.

PS. Guess where I'm posting this from? From the lazy aftermath of a surprise birthday party to my friend K. We really are lucky, aren't we.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

favourite film posters: amélie

I love Amélie and this poster is the most beautiful one I've seen. The things I'd do for a room like hers! (The things I'd do for any kind of room in Paris, come to think of it.)

Friday, 18 March 2011

hello darkness, my old friend

I made a mixtape, again, in celebration of spring and hope. Always hope. Sorry about the rambling title. 

Happy weekend!

Treatment for Melancholy, or, Hello Darkness My Old Friend (You're My Only Vice)
Simon & Garfunkel: The Sound of Silence
James Blake: Limit to Your Love
Camera Obscura: Happy New Year
The Tallest Man on Earth: The Gardener
Emilíana Torrini: Big Jumps
Angus & Julia Stone: Mango Tree
Sufjan Stevens: Pittsfield

Thursday, 17 March 2011

help japan

The amazing blogger Hilda Grahnat is selling beautiful photo prints and collage postcards and donating all proceeds directly to the Japanese Red Cross's earthquake and tsunami relief fund. Buy them here, see her blog post about the project with high-quality pictures of the products here.

can you hear that hopeful heart?

You anchor me by the consistently delightful Marc Johns.

Today the sun had almost risen when I woke up. After months upon months of darkness, that's the most hopeful way to begin a day. That, and skipping along the first dry patches in the asphalt.

(Also, I heard the seagulls cry yesterday, which, in Helsinki, is the only reliable sign of spring.)

This week has been made up of baking birthday cakes and wrapping gifts (six birthdays within two weeks!). I've also been taking my sailing plans to a whole new level - looks like I might join up to four crews next summer.

(And finally, things are calming down. I'm still slightly hopeless, every now and then, but I try to treat myself well regardless. I soak in all the sunlight I can get and drink spicy tea and every now and then I listen to this song, because they sing about happiness that can't be stolen.)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

on days of combat, the crew would mix gunpowder with their liquor

 I was wandering through a bookshop today and came across a tiny collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, among them a story called The Widow Ching - Pirate. So I marched right up to the cashier with the book hanging from my fingertips. (In a whimsical, childish, almost ridiculous way, I'm still fascinated by pirates. I mostly blame it on sailing.)

And because Borges is Borges, the story turned out to be an impeccable, graceful thing. It's about a female pirate called Ching Shih, who lead the most notable fleet in 1800's China. Battles and gunpowder and opium and liquor, all worded in a way that's bone-chillingly, achingly, haltingly perfect.

"And yet each evening, lazy flocks of weightless dragons rose high into the sky above the ships of the imperial fleet and hovered delicately above the water, above the enemy decks."

Sunday, 13 March 2011

words are futile devices

Last week has been one of the most difficult ones. Possibly ever. Full of worry and fear and endless crashing waves of pointless guilt. (See this post.)

Time assumes a strange quality in times in times of crisis. Hours pass by in a fog, punctured by sharp, craggy moments of absolute clarity. I've been stuck in my head and in my heart, neurotically clutching my phone like a lifeline.

For the past seven days, everything in me has been focused on my friend. For someone as invested in my own mental health and my own issues, it's astounding to see all of that cease to matter. Sometimes shit so huge goes down that there's nothing left to do but forget myself, in a way.

But I've been coping, I've gone into a kind of a survival mode. Forcing myself to eat, to sleep, to talk to my friends and to allow myself some tears. It seems almost as though I've turned into a shell with feelings inside and nothing on the outside except whatever is needed to display the inside. I'm like a tuned radio, unable to turn myself off, keeping a running commentary of my thoughts, of all the panic and fear and hurt and sadness, and also the perpetual undercurrent of relief.

I'm normally quite proficient at hiding how I feel, but this past week I have been able to hide absolutely nothing. As my therapist said, that's really the only thing to do after a traumatic event. To get it all out there.

And things are calmer now, things are okay. I really think we might all pull through, my friend and myself included.

(And yet again a huge thank you to all my friends and family and also to my therapist.)

Friday, 11 March 2011

sunlight and soft soles

I want these. Handmade vegan moccasins by Manimal. I can already imagine biking around Helsinki next summer wearing moccasins and a dress, or walking across the city centre, feeling the sun-warmed cobblestones through the soles.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

favourite film posters: one day

I'm not going to lie, I literally cannot wait for this film. I adored the novel by David Nicholls and everything I've heard so far about the movie sounds perfect. Lone Scherfig is one of my favourite directors.

This poster is something I'd love to have on my wall. Too often film posters are simply ugly, with garish colours and fonts. This one looks more like a book cover.

I'm a bit of a film poster freak, so I'm considering in making a little series of my favourite posters. Yes/no?

Monday, 7 March 2011

perhaps we don't like what we see


I received some really bad news yesterday evening about a dear friend of mine. I might stay away from the blogosphere for some time. Be safe, all of you, and a vast thank you to all my friends who have helped me out yesterday and today.

Quote from the magnificent and talented Sufjan Stevens, my go-to artist in times of trouble.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

how i want to live

In a small wooden house in the woods. With a rickety bookshelf and sunlight through the branches. With a little darkroom and all the tea I can drink. Rain on the roof and lazy days in bed. And pillow forts and nights by the bonfire. Biking to the nearby seashore, because I need need need the sea, the sharp waves breaking brittle against my legs.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

my heart won't stay entirely in this rib caging

Sometimes I feel like we only see each other in glimpses, in unguarded moments. We're all shut off from others in our own bodies, our own minds, our own separate realities. Some people I can easily synchronise my reality with, but mostly I just feel cut off, uncompatible. For years, the single thing I have searched for in everyone I meet is understanding. Someone who could read me from every lip-bite, from every eyebrow raise, from the very dilation of my pupils.

Friday, 4 March 2011

this is an introductory post

I was waiting for my crêpes in Paris and my face was doing something weird.

I've been putting off writing an introductory post for weeks. It's high time I grabbed myself by the neck, as we say here in Finland, and churned it out.

Hello. My name is Iida (pronounced ee-duh), I am eighteen years of age and I live just outside Helsinki. I'm Finnish but I was born in England, and I'm bilingual. I attend a high school focused on the arts.

I write, I read, I take photographs, I sail (tall ships, not yachts). I listen to quite a lot of music, jazz and 60's pop and this thing called indie. Pretty much anything with a bit of banjo and whispery vocals.

I am scared shitless by most things in life. I'm a perfectionist to the most ridiculous degree. I'm also inherently lazy and prone to procrastinate.

I'm chronically awkward and ridiculously self-indulgent. It's my second nature to keep a running record of my thoughts and feelings. Like most of us who write, I feel a desperate need to catalogue and define my existence, to pin down my life for fear of forgetting.

My mother wanted to photograph me in front of La Fontaine Médicis and my face resorted to weirdness again.

I've been seeing my therapist for about a year. I've been having a hard time coping with my (truly terribly low) self-esteem, my perfectionism, my difficulties in social situations, my self-harm. It's nothing you haven't heard of before but I have the misfortune of having to live through it. The good thing is that these days I find it much easier to be hopeful about my future

(And the most important thing about me, the reason I write this blog, what it all boils down to: I'm learning to be honest.)


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

what i want

(Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

"We love you so much! We'll protect you!"

What else could one wish for, what more than love and protection could one possibly want? Well, I do want more. I want to be able to trust in that love and protection.

Like Oskar in Safran Foer's novel, my life isn't lacking in people who love me and care for me. What I lack is the strength and courage to believe it is true.

The factor is not whether or not the people around me are trustworthy or not, because I know most of them are. I have every reason to believe my friends and family when they tell me they love me, when they tell me they want to know how I'm doing. And still, it's the unsurmountable feat, my ultimate downfall, my lifelong struggle. I doubt, I run, I hide. I open up a little and then shift into reverse, for fear of - what, exactly?

Maybe the problem isn't my inability to trust. Maybe it is instead that I do not want to trust. Or maybe I just don't know how.

Trust is not automatic. Trust is not passive, and it is not up to choice. It is intuitive, but maybe not for me. And I am okay with that. This is my personal Achilles heel, having never learnt to allow myself to trust the people I love.

But just last Sunday, when I was feeling scared and sad in a panicky way, I reached for my phone and almost automatically called my friend. Intuitively, almost. Because I needed help and I allowed myself to ask for it. Because I trusted.

dirty glasses


I only notice how dirty my glasses are when the sun starts shining again. (Sometimes I think it's counter-effective, glasses improving my eyesight and the dust motes impairing it again.)

Look, I made you a mixtape! (It's called Dirty Glasses & Futile Devices. Enjoy.)

Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens: Say Hello
Mumford & Sons: Awake My Soul
The Weepies: Take It From Me
Laura Marling: Ghosts
Sufjan Stevens: The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!
The Maccabees: Toothpaste Kisses
Sufjan Stevens: Futile Devices

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

march means spring

After the good times comes the return to normalcy, which I always manage to take hard. So I remind myself to breathe and haul my heavy bones to school, to friends, to lessons. And I get by, I really do. I take neat notes and tilt my head towards the skinny winter sunlight, I arrange my books into piles on every desk I sit at, I listen to people talk.

And suddenly I find myself talking too. For a while it sounds shrill and forced, but then I slide out of myself and into the world, remembering how things feel when they're easy.