Friday, November 27, 2009

now we're all dancers.

there are dance videos that capture a decade perfectly. my list of unforgettable dance videos are as follows: janet jackson's "rhythm nation" for the 80's, madonna's "vogue" for the 90's, moloko's "familiar feeling" or "forever more" for the 2k. each of them impressive and special, and the last ones envelop a marginal style of dancing that briefly affected the club culture of each decade and set a corporeal standard that was unique to a brief period of time.

it's been a while since i've felt impressed by dance videos: the booty shaking of shakira and beyonce almost exhaust me, but hardly provide aesthetic pleasure. therefore, this song and video by circlesquare is something i see carrying us over to the next decade. i saw it first at adorable indie's blog, but have played the song at my gigs before, absolutely loving it.

"dancers" is perfection. enjoy.


i should write about great parties that have been ever so frequent lately, but instead i'll tell you about a dress.

my personal evolvement from the girl that always had to have a new dress for every party to the girl sporting the same recognizable showstopper frock continuously has been slow and steady. it remains difficult to this day to appear in the same garment at a festivity: i have learned to associate respectful clothing with novelty as much as the type of garment. therefore, my next project is to stop apologizing to people when they recognize my outfit as the one they saw before... not quite there, yet, i'm afraid.

generally the fashion police claim that in order to feel well-dressed one needs to invest in one classic garment that works in every party situation with the addition of variable accessories. usually they mean the lbd. needless to say, my party self is the horny salmon hopping against the stream and from my vast collection of dresses, i have chosen as my comfort gear the loudest, most obnoxious piece of draped fabric.

mind you, this wasn't planned, but the dress cast a spell on me...this is the story of spock.

i ran into spockity-spock at a small vintage store one early morning in williamsburg. i had barely had my java as i wandered into rabbit's. i loved sporadic pop-ins to have a quick chat with the cheerful japanese owner. once inside, instant infatuation resulted in a quick buy although i am pretty sure my eyes were half closed throughout the process.

she wasn't cheap for an 80's frock, and i remember thinking that it was probably the worst investment i ever made. i am not entirely clueless about the way people regard loud clothing and against the rules of rick owens quoted by sugar kane, spock definitely speaks tons for me (and probably a few people who happen to land in my proximity, as well...). i knew i would stand out sporting her flowing flaps and protruding shoulders, and i am not all that keen about being in the spotlight.

but i felt weird affinity towards her: it was as if she was a misunderstood sort of a being who was slightly too weird for her own good. the shy girl whose features are off, laughs too loud and therefore always gets attention and, distracted, starts babbling insanely. the chatterboxy kind of colorful...

miss spock's first big soirée avec moi was at this new hipster party called the misshapes. in 2004 it was smallish and the people running it – leigh lezark, geordon nicol and greg krelenstein – were hardly polished party-life celebrities frequenting the sartorialist and such. the common opinion amongst my friends was that the party took a spiraling downfall from that particular night, but i guess we suck at foretelling since it became one of the biggest hipster hells for the next two years or so... (this is my way to advertise my skills at trend-forecasting – impressive, huh?)

it took almost a year for spock to re-emerge from my closet. in 2005 i appeared with her twice: to welcome the new year and to receive an award for a bar i concept designed. from the responses i got, people of helsinki were not quite ready for her, yet.

so back into storage she went only to find her way back to the spotlight this year. she's been to flop where her fabulousness was finally embraced with the furious intensity she deserves. she acted as my protective shield at tigi photo awards gala where i dj'd next to a giant disco ball (and managed to dodge almost every single camera present – partly because i was busy playing the entire night... the one above i found at traveltoes) and because i feel comfortable in her, i wore her to the fiasco referred to as the nrj fashion awards that sucked even worse than last year and the fun-filled, exotic mermaid fantasy of mums magazine release party at diesel store helsinki. somehow every event i wear her ends up great –even the nrj was tolerable no thanks to the organization, but to the comradeship we felt dissing it – and i enjoy my time. sure, it could come down to great party organization but, hey, let's give the dress some credit.

this heavy, fully draped electric blue dress feels organic on my body, and despite of the 25 or so lbd's i own, i feel more comfortable with my vulcan friend than within the safe embrace of black fabric. i think we'll live happily ever after. how strange is that?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


today i shall talk about the mythical gilded ox we have come to know as "finnish quality of days past". it comes in many forms in conversation: cheers such as "let's bring back the finnish clothing industry!", complaints such as "domestically produced used to be quality compared to this..." and factual statements such as "the loss of jobs to asia has diminished quality." i am referring to the often cited idea that finnish industry used to provide us with high-caliber products which is often uttered in combination with 1) the lament that after work was exported quality has diminished and 2) the desire to perk up the industry in order to regain quality.

after less than careful thought i suggest that there never existed such a phenomenon as "finnish quality", so entertain me: fact or myth?

let me start by stating some obvious points: first, i am writing this wearing a dress from samu-jussi koski's early line for marimekko produced in china. the weave came undone at the shoulder during the first wear, but otherwise the dress has been alright. you've got to take my word for it – there isn't a place for shooting pics in our pre-move apartment hell of boxes. second, i own a comparable vintage marimekko dress from my mother's collection from the late 60's, still in immaculate condition and obviously made in finland. thus, i could state that finnish manufacturing quality is better than chinese. but that would make me a simpleton with a preference for bubbles and i choose not to be one.

another point is the question of unemployment which i will not deal with here. on a personal level, i, as much as anyone, want my friends to have work they enjoy. on a larger scale, i cannot find a solid ethical reason why we should prefer a finnish laborer over a chinese one: call me an unpatriotic nomad (and i'll take it as a compliment), but if it was either marja-terttu or xiu ling facing unemployment, i could not decide between them. (if you can, i'd be incredibly interested in your chain of reasoning. feel free to elaborate in the comments section below.)

i would not feel this aggravated if the discussion revolved around claims such as the overall disappearance of quality products. the addition of nationalism that echoes at the level of "negros [sic!!] are great dancers because of their natural sense of rhythm" is what irks me – especially because i find the area of fashion a place of sanctuary from such irresponsible prejudice. at the most basic level the idea is that "made in finland" equals "good quality" as if domestic production by finns was essentially inherent in the latter.

so let's get on with it, now shall we. myths? right.

artisans vs factory labor? first of all, we must differentiate between artisans and skilled factory labor. artisan manual workers are a steadily diminishing breed since industrialization: there are a rare few who nowadays can create by hand. on the other side are skilled factory laborers who are responsible for industrial production. they are a very different and varied kind of a bunch whose efforts are directed towards providing standardized results. the first group has been overtaken by the latter and the phenomenon itself is not domestic, but global.

together with the decrease in artisan labor we have witnessed the emergence of romanticized appreciation of handmade products. the trend has accumulated to an extent where all sorts of crap is sold to finns who – in addition to some tourists – are hoofs enough to buy into the "handmade in finland" sales pitch. i sometimes wonder whether it is because we're sadists who take pleasure knowing that someone wasted precious time in producing something meticulous by hand and will never be compensated accordingly... and then we glee under the halo of supporting yet another "young designer". my point being that handmade does not equal artisanship. my point is not that all (young) finnish designers produce substandard handmade creations.

which brings us to the next point...

quality vs trash? the quality of items comes down to a set of limited basic requirements: design, material, skilled work and, most importantly, selective control according to accepted standards. product inspection takes time, time costs money, and spending money diminishes profit unless the price is increased. simple.

one of the popular arguments against pricing differences between brands is the observation that the same factories produce brand-name and no-name products, and therefore, the claim goes, brand-name items differ only by profit margin. well, it ain't quite that simple, really. if we ignore material selection, there is another important issue. before a pair of sneakers makes it into a nike box, it is inspected several times. compared to the nondescript pair the time consumed in quality control makes a huge difference. obviously it does not explain the entire price difference (or even the majority), but it is naive to say we're sold the same products and are just paying for the swoosh; the selection process does differentiate between products in regards to quality stability.

nevertheless, standards of quality have lowered overall, and we're each to blame, both consumers and producers. at the most fundamental level, we're not willing to pay for the time it takes to produce a high caliber garment. nevertheless, there is still careful production in addition to haphazard production but the latter seems to be taking over. again, this is a global phenomenon.

which brings me to the next point...

national vs global? was finnish industrial production before better than production abroad is nowadays? sure it was, but it hardly comes down to locale, but the fact that industrial production in general was better globally. actually, to put it more accurately, the slice of superior industrial products from the whole was larger than presently.

the diminishing quality has created distorted beliefs in people's minds: we associate chinese merchandise with low caliber. are we really trying to claim that the company that orders the product does not provide standards for the products they agree to receive? the reason we receive crap from china is solely due to the fact that we order and accept crap from china. if we were to order the items from finland, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the outcome was any better unless we adjust the standards.

my argument being, when factory labor is considered there aren't differences between nationalities: marja-terttu in lahti near helsinki and xiu ling in a small town of 18 million near beijing can produce garments of the same grade. the fact that nowadays xiu ling seems to get the job of marja-terttu comes down to such socialist fantasies (oh, the irony!) as strong union laws that prevent marja-terttu from being exploited to the extent of her colleague in the communist workers' paradise of china.

i may be going towards blasphemy here, but despite the fact that finns love to cherish the memory of good olden finnish factories producing amazing domestic quality, the reality is that our primary business partner was notoriously uninterested in quality and after the fall of the soviet, the crap we created could not be sold anywhere else. naturally, this does not mean that there wasn't quality production in addition to the spew.

which leads me to my final point...

re-establishing finnish clothing industry? would the effort to rebuild our factories improve the products we receive? hardly, unless we're changing the standards of impressiveness we demand and are willing to pay for. finnish production by itself does not equal quality work, materials, design or control – they are universals of quality and can only be achieved if strenuously demanded. the time of a finnish seamstress is more expensive than the time of her chinese colleague from which we can deduce that for the same input we are bound to get less – the uneasy result of global exploitation.

i am not denying that having factories available would not be beneficial for many people in addition to those who find work there. i understand that the endeavor of creating a line of clothing comes down to finding people for the execution, and because our domestic industry is nonexistent, only those with lots of funding or artisanal skills can succeed. a talented designer, like my friend jaakko and the nationally famous antti asplund, whose personal manufacturing skills are not up to the standards they wish their final products were, suffer from the fact that it is difficult to find laborers. moreover, a desire to expand and grow is hindered by the lack of makers. but would the reopening of local factories improve anything else except the availability of work force, i.e. would it mean better quality than they'd receive from china (provided there was funding)? i hardly believe so because whatever financial potential they had for investing into the production, the turnout would be relative and quality comes down to investing into time and control.

my points in short are that quality comes down to universal standards and inspection, the downfall of quality is a global phenomenon, the history of finnish industry is not as evidently superior as one might be lead to believe, and the general rules of industrial production apply here as they do everywhere else. if we do not demand quality and show intent to pay for it, it makes no difference qualitywise where the production takes place. therefore, the idea that domestic production could save us from inferior products seems to be a romanticized idea derived from a myth, rather than a fact.

the myth of finnish quality of days past – busted?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


there is some real girl power available for your listening pleasure tonight from 9pm onwards. it's girlicious time at kuudes linja with five rocking female dj's, myself included. come and dance!


the story i talked about before is out (in finnish only, unfortunately) and some of my new readers are here because of it.

first of all: welcome! i hope you enjoy and return.

as much as i'd love to say i was happy with the article, i must confess disappointment. what bothers me most is that i was promised a chance to edit the text if necessary, but the final print version turned out to be significantly different from the one that i accepted. infuriating. what's the point of asking if you're not going to respect the answers?

to begin with corrections, my bald head is not a trademark of any sort. as my readers know, i am very interested in trends – as phenomena, that is. moreover, there were photos of me and my clothes here before the bald head – just not of my face.

my main concern comes down to especially the issue of privacy that was accentuated repeatedly. the alterations made after the version i saw enhance the merging of two separate ideas: my reason for talking behind a pseudonym and the topics i choose to discuss became a weird, almost paranoid sort of symbiotic "privacy" although they are two very different things.

first, i discuss my blog from the cover of an alias because it is the project of that alias. i want to keep my real life persona and the blogger separate. the main motivation for the practical separation is modest, though, and comes down to google hits: in this clever world of interweb, names and sites become associated rather quick. in addition to my real self and my blogger identity, i have a professional (ex-)academic self. people usually look me up because of professional reasons and i do not wish them to end up in my blog. it's not because i was ashamed of the content – i list the blog on my cv –, but because my academic work was politically sensitive and i still receive threatening letters to my old university department. additionally, my old university email address's powerful spam filter wasn't there for no reason. needless to say, i do not want those people here – my blog is a harassment free zone. therefore, i do my best to keep this site and my real name separated online. nothing dramatic or secretive there, then.

second, and something that i did want to point out in the interview: i do not discuss certain areas about my life here because i don't think they're anybody's business but my own and whoever are associated. i believe that once something is exposed here it becomes the property of readers to comment on. hence, my relationship and my friends are not something i share, simple as that. being associated in the print version of the story to readers who wish to stalk fashion bloggers and their personal lives made me extremely uncomfortable. there's nothing worth stalking here...

therefore, "careful and strict about her privacy" comes down to two very different and separate issues.

funny that my biggest concern after the interview was how the photo would turn out because the photographer felt slightly unreliable – and it turned out great. my worries should have been directed somewhere else entirely... little did i know.

edit: i got some clarification on the issue and i feel for the journalist. her own side and interesting info in the comments. see yerselves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

damage control.

a while ago i stumbled across a book called design revolution by emily pilloton. it holds a collection of design innovations that have ended as products that empower people whether providing education, mobility, play, or energy among others.

the starting point in pilloton's book is her dedication as a designer to devote her time towards projects that actually benefit people rather than create more of the same for the already over-consuming population of the world. her claim is that most of designer ingenuity goes toward design for design's sake disregarding the reason why great design exists in the first place, that is, for the people. the perception of ethical problem-solving as she laments comes down to regarding product design as trend-guided and superficial, disconnected from human needs. self-evidently she does not start from assuming that aesthetics are secondary, in case you were wondering.

moreover, when it comes to ecological consumption we often appear content with diminishing damage; developing hybrid cars or sustainable cotton are processes that reduce the damage traditional petrol gulping cars and cotton clothing produce and hardly improve the lives or conditions of people, but just adjust the guilt levels of the already privileged. pilloton asks a serious question about aiming higher than "do no harm" as an ethical guideline and actually striving towards "embetter".

as far as i'm concerned every single entry in the book deserves its own blog post, but i'll introduce you to some of them.

water: hippo water roller. a durable container for water transport.

well-being: target pharmacy bottle. a redesigned bottle for medication that reduces the risk of confusion between family members' pills and facilitates understanding.

energy: windbelt. a more efficient, turbine free wind harvester that utilizes the flutter effect better known for destroying bridges...

education: kinkajoy microfilm projector and portable library. a solar panel operated led based projector with microfilm content for non-electrified areas.

mobility: whirlwind roughrider. a sturdy wheelchair for rough terrain providing accessibility in areas without perfect intrastructure.

food: daily dump. an inexpensive compost for organic waste reduction.

i wanted to raise another question of whether the design ethic of pilloton could be applied to fashion consumption as well: we all need clothing but could we also do good? pilloton compares design and medical solutions, and finds that solutions in product innovations are often temporary fixes that hardly ever reach for the source of a a problem. it could be argued that systematic solutions should be preferred over temporary fixes. is there a way for an ethical consumer to start acting analogically to someone seeking medical prevention? can we consume in non-band-aid ways and start creating change with and through our consumer actions?

when it comes to taking personal responsibility as a fashion consumer, stella listed her own rules of eco-awareness with fashion, and i agree with them. as anu pointed out, we all already know how to be better consumers: buy less, buy work-ethically and ecologically sound products, buy quality, buy used. that's it, and despite sounding easy, the rules are incredibly difficult to follow. perhaps that is the reason we often stop the discussion on consumer ethics there. as anu also reminded us, the effect we as consumers have for societal change is limited and much narrower than we're lead to believe.

the basic suggestion is simple: intend to buy things that not merely avoid or do less (the usual) harm, but that actually bring about improvement. taken literally this implies a radical change in our consumption since we're used to exploitation on levels that are almost impossible to comprehend.

there are obvious requirements. there's a need to educate oneself in matters of production, social realities, marketing, etc. in order to make informed decisions. as an example of fashion, consider this t-shirt from edun that combines sustainable material (organic cotton), ethical production (sustainable factories in peru) and the added benefit of fund-transfers towards those in need (15% of proceeds to benefit war child). the last could be considered a form of pill-popping fixes, but there is no doubt some medication is also needed in this world of ours, right?

without full knowledge of the production costs and the division of proceeds it is difficult estimate whether the production is fair. as i have pointed out before, merely creating jobs is not ethical if we expect people to settle for conditions we ourselves would consider unbearable.

in addition to fair labor and sustainable materials there is a need for openness of design: kamicha called for the transparent designer, i.e. the abolition of nameless designers who copy for the mass market, but are unwilling (or unable) to stand behind their work. although there is no undeniable evidence that coming forth with your own name could secure quality (those who have recently visited marc jacobs will know what i mean...), it may improve the chances of designers creating things they actually feel proud of. assuming there is a significant addition of brand extra in the price of the edun shirt, the fact remains that a tee would probably end up costing close to a 100€ if produced ethically and priced according to global equality.

as a lover of all things beautiful, i struggle with the thought of the background of my favorite objects, and as much as i'd love to invest in couture to promote the artisanship of southern europe, i must settle for the cheaper alternatives – fully aware that they do not come cheap. could we start demanding full exposure? thus, are we ready and willing to bear the costs?

Friday, November 13, 2009

choo choo.

it is not my style to post about going shopping. this will be an exception and only because it is such a perfect example of weakness of will and opportunity making the thief.

i decided to skip the jimmy choo collaboration with h&m, because nothing struck me as glorious or worth lining up for. but i got invited to the elle magazine pre-sale event and could not resist going... and here's the result. i am heavily relying on the right to return things i do not love.

the suede dresses are actually beautiful and seem fine both quality and finishing wise, the grey one is a definite future favorite; the belts are versatile and the pimpy boots add bling to an ordinary day.

even the vip event was packed and got a little crazy – i was really lucky to get my hands on everything i wanted – so i cannot imagine what it will be like tomorrow. good luck to those of you who intend to go...

opposites attract.

last night was music filled and intense. the combination of acts was – to put it mildly – interesting, but the result turned out unexpected.

we were offered tickets to the p!nk show because some friends were unable to attend. although napping was considered a relatively seductive alternative, we agreed to go.

freakin' eh, am i glad we went! the show was spectacular and although i am not familiar with p!nk's music, i recognized plenty of the songs – three covers helped, including the x-rated version of divinyls' "i touch myself" that puts madonna to shame... there was definitely some sharp wit, singing talent and charisma on stage regardless of what one may think of her music.

we continued according to our original plan for the night and ventured to redrum for some glass candy. since they were signed to italians do it better and released their 12" "i always say yes" in 2007, i've been a fan. it was my first time seeing them live and must confess to feeling slightly disappointed because the singer could hardly hold a tune regardless of the effect abundance. a friend told me they had improved tremendously from two years ago – can only imagine how horrific they sounded then... thank goddess for produced records, because their music is still amazing!

here's "digital versicolor".

the opening act desire has been on a constant spin on my ipod and they delivered live, as well. my ears are still pounding...

attentive attendees.

i spent wednesday afternoon at the tiger of sweden showroom with stylists, bloggers and tiger representatives. we enjoyed an intimate showing of their spring line accompanied by sparkling and brunch nibblies. afterwards we were offered a hands-on experience with the final products in addition to materials and processes accompanied by a solo cellist from apocalyptica playing in the corner – something quite eerie, but also and ultimately exciting. the fact that there was an opportunity to discuss the company history and present in addition to fashion in general, material development and, moreover, my favorite topic of finland as a fashion market created an atmosphere of genuine interest going back and forth. time flies when you're having fun and the brunch lasted until midnight...

tiger does tailoring with the expertise and subtlety of old school craftmanship. i have lamented before that their cuts do not suit my body shape – an unfortunate fact for someone in finland where affordable quality is rarely offered. their sartorial history shows in the elegance of the garments and i have often admired their work on others. now that i got to fondle the sleeve fittings and collars with the kind of intensity i rarely let myself slip into at retail stores, the construction and detailing became more apparent than ever. the combination of classic cuts with contemporary edgy fabrics and vice versa are what makes their line so interesting.

one of the topics we discussed revolved around staple pieces of one's wardrobe – something many bloggers have talked about lately. especially we dissected the belief that investment pieces should be classics, that is, the idea that splurging can be rationalized if the garment in question is a classic, i.e. a goes-with-anything, item. i find the logic disturbing: classic more often than not means boring and if your own style is not the refined preppy, investing in basics might imply misplaced money. the reasoning behind investing in "timeless" design is that you never get bored with them because they say "nothing" and, supposedly therefore, have a lengthier lifespan in your wardrobe. they are easier to wear because they require no thought...

see where i'm going?

what is the point of investing in something that arouses no feelings of joy, love or pleasure? aren't the pieces really worth investing in the ones you love because they are special? sure the feeling of a quality sweater compared to a cheapo piece of krapolah speaks for some investing, but i still think buying the sequined dress that makes you drool every single time you see it rather than a cashmere v-neck sweater in camel is way better an investment. when everything in your wardrobe makes your heart ache with joy, style becomes a heavenly habit.

thus, although tiger might be unable to provide a three-piece suit for me, i am putting my hope in two items this spring: a frilly dress from their jeans line.
the 80's california surf punk attitude might feel somewhat dated already, but this baby had me on goosebumps the minute the model walked in. summer, i am ready in acid wash yet again! the soundtrack: sigue sigue sputnik's "21st century boy"

the other item is a tan leather blazer from the main line that's cut just above the waist and fits snugly around the torso. here the body shape issue becomes apparent, but i decided that i can always wear it undone because the cut of the back allows it. the softest leather and the muted tone works any season, me thinks. surely an investment piece if there ever was one. (i had a fairly difficult time trying to capture my dorky face...)

thanks and huge props to tiger team. more (and better) photos from the event here, here and here, and a videoblog here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

five guilty pleasures.

bloggers form a community that follows its own rules of conduct. cross-linking and mutual commenting are some requirements, but there are other little quirks are well. one curious habit among bloggers is to give each other awards and challenge each other with memes. essentially these circulating questionnaires are innocent – they are the modern version of chain letters and friend notebooks.

as of late i have pondered my relationship with the blogosphere: the virtual communities' rules strengthen little bubbles for socializing, and awards play a part in this creation. oftentimes it seems the grasp on reality among bloggers becomes warped by the internet community: the internal communication takes place on another, reality-ridden level altogether. the bloggers i feel the need to extend more than a virtual shoulder pat towards are a rare few, but i know many socialize offline, as well, and meetings are not uncommon. many of these habits seem to feed the bloggers' need for peer support, but also create the illusion of there being an enviable blogista world out there somewhere that readers cannot become a part of, but bloggers should. let me assure that there isn't one.

nevertheless, approaching people one feels affinity towards is something i will concentrate on, and i will continue to hold the ones i find endearing close. i also think forming offline bonds with genuinely interesting people can be extremely satisfying, and believe i've made real friends through blogging. grand, now ain't it?

one of the more recent acquaintances is kamicha, who gave me the divine award that comes with a meme. i am to list 5 guilty pleasures of mine.

as kamicha, i hardly live my life regretting or feeling guilty over what i choose to do. as a self-proclaimed hedonist i have many habits i probably could or should feel guilt over, but my rationalizing skills save me from falling into self-induced emotional torture. pleasures, especially, are not something that i feel guilt over, but since i do recognize some discrepancies, i will try to list them here.

1. elitist contempt. my only real guilt inducing pleasure is to read discussion forums, especially the forum of helsingin sanomat. the sheer stupidity and ignorance of people is entertaining and ego-elevating. cheap thrills if there ever were any... the guilt is derived from the time i waste there because there's nothing newsworthy in many people being ignorant and prejudiced and needing reassurance by laughing at people makes me rather stupid, right? however, i do not comment, because that takes the guilt level a notch too high to my liking. generally speaking, i have no interest in communicating with people who are not capable of the standard i expect – my life's just too short for stick-figure explanations. and there are aplenty of people that deserve my precious benevolence (haha, sound smug enough yet?) and more than a few i consider worthy of pure admiration. therefore, this is one habit i am seriously working on rejecting.

2. shoes. although i cannot really say i feel guilt over shoe purchases, i have felt momentary regret (and nausea) over the revelation that i have spent ridiculous amounts on shoes i cannot walk in. here's an example of a pair i bought, pondered over for a while and arranged a strategic meeting with two friends i knew would never say "return them!" to back me up. stupid, because they require a completely flat surface for (very. careful.) walking and were, let's just say, several hundred euros. as one of the friends said i can always use them as bookends...

platform sandals by miumiu.

and for this to be a genuine guilty pleasure, i am willing to confess that this pair is not alone: this row of shoeboxes is just what came out of a closet we sold. there's more in other closets and in the storage. woops.

3. cheese, eaten plain. generally speaking, i don't feel guilty over eating: i eat as often as i want and what i want, and you won't find me divulging deploringly the amount of chocolate or pizza i crammed into my body – it is a part of women's socializing culture i fundamentally do not understand. nonetheless, i was brought up to believe that my favorite food, cheese in any form, should not be eaten plain, but accompanied with bread. the reasoning behind was simple: in a family of six, cheese consumption was significant and expensive, and i alone could have finished a block a day.

i am also aware that cheese is one of the most consuming food products: in many cases it is ecologically as devastating as meat production. another reason to feel guilty for my love of cheese. hence, i still feel slight guilt whenever i eat cheese plain. which is daily. gulp.

4. intoxication in great company. sitting down for a bottle (or two) of wine or five pints is something i definitely love in the right company. although i don't feel guilty after drinking because i'd screw anything up or thought socializing wasn't worth the expense, i do realize that leaving after a few less would be better considering the next day: i hate days that just pass by inefficiently if choose the leisure mode for the night before and not for the day following. the fun compensates the hangover guilt, though.

5. clothes. well, yes. the necessity argument is without basis in my case. every single purchase i make, whether old, new, borrowed or blue, raises issues of guilt. and comes with a significant dose of pleasure. much of this blog is about this particular guilty pleasure, so i'll just leave it at that this time.

there you have it. to act according to the blogger code of conduct, i shall pass this on: jaakko is simply divine, and so are salka, anna, petra and anu.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

real-estate hell.

i've been slightly more quiet for a reason recently: in the past months i have gone down to the lowest levels of real-estate hell and come back up, only to find myself circulating in pre-move purgatory.

my sweetie and i were looking for a home to buy for several months. we meticulously peeped through listings and signed up for every single alert system on offer. we did our homework and knew the price evolution of the areas we were looking into moving. the reasoning for the project was simple: the rent of our attic loft could easily cover a significant mortgage, and whether i am willing to admit it or not, creating a home on square meters that you own instead of rent, feels more like a project i want to invest time and money in.

the same morning we left for paris we decided to check out one more apartment. falling in love with the line of six windows (all with wide window panes!) immersing the apartment with light, we scribbled down an offer, and merely ten minutes before boarding the plane we received a call congratulating us. we had a new home, and paris was all the more worthy of champagne.

our new home is one aerial block from where we're now and despite the date looming far in the future at the end of the month, i am already in the middle of inventory and moving panic. the reason might be clear from an old posting of mine: there's no elevator and we're six flights up. hence, we're rationalizing our material belongings, i.e. sorting out clothing, shoes, and all sorts of crap we've accumulated. we're selling furniture we will neither need nor want, and the apartment is suddenly devoid of closets and drawer units. which means this is my present view:

after the usual day of work we've visited both offline and online furniture stores and planned trips to countryside second-hand markets in the weekends. all in all, it's a little hectic project that takes up some time from blogging momentarily, but which will without a doubt provide material for the blog.

here's the first.

the story until now requires some explicit ranting. admittedly, i have high expectations when it comes to service and expect courteous treatment everywhere. buying a home is a huge deal and setting the mood starts with dealing with real-estate agents. no matter how you'll try to distance yourself from the social part of the process, it makes all the difference how the process of negotiation goes. my first round owning a place started hideously, and after selling the apartment a couple of years ago i decided never to buy anything that's still under construction. the nerve-wrecking months of insomnia were not worth the result.

as a general observation, it is fairly obvious that real-estate agents come from various backgrounds. there are definitely professionals in the field – and we had the pleasure of starting our current deal with one of them – but the number of incompetent, socially dyslexic and plainly stupid people trying to earn their living by selling apartments is mind-boggling. the total lack of pride and professionalism is baffling. here's some types i encountered.

the eluder. although i understand that the time used to get information about the apartment on sale must be deducted from efficient selling time, i kinda feel there is a connection between the two. it is not uncommon to have an agent present who has no idea of the place for sale, cannot answer questions, lies about not having the info, and, ultimately, ignores the questions.

the aggressor. rude agents are more the rule than the exception. i have witnessed and received so many rude comments from agents that i don't care to count. there is also a significant number of the eluding kind who respond to questions with aggression – imagine the faces of potential buyers when the agents snaps at them after posing a perfectly innocent question.

the snob. sneering and condescending agents are a league of their own. they only talk to people who look "right" at open houses and if called for a private showing, let their face show that you're wasting their time. unfortunately, i got used to handling them when i purchased my first home which i was almost not shown into because the agent deemed the apartment too expensive for me. however ridiculous their behavior is, the encounters leave a sour taste in one's mouth.

the flake. some agents are a curious bunch: how many home-owners are aware that their agents are unwilling to show the apartment because they have better things to do? let's say, in the mornings... like dealing with hangovers. some just never show up and do not answer their phones. ever wonder why your apartment is not receiving bids?

nevertheless, the worst type are people trying to sell their own place: the sentimental value one places in one's home is something agents are capable of deducting. i, for one, would not want a stranger standing in my living room, evaluating my home decor or lighting choices. when estimating a place i must consider the changes required and if my first thought is "the kitchen must go", it's preferable an agent hears it rather than the owner who lovingly selected the (hideous) ensemble the year before. also the additional value of "ambiance" is something self-sellers fail to evaluate accurately more often than not...

thus, in addition to looking for months, writing down bids and counterbids, looking yet more, feeling disappointed because interesting places are sold before you've even seen them and have time to bid, etc., apartment hunting comes with a serving of extraordinarily unpleasant people. i have a list of agents i'd never hire based on seeing them in action communicating with potential buyers.

seriously, here's one profession in dire need to clean up their act. wanna share your experiences?