Monday, June 28, 2010

two random men in my life

Have you ever known someone who you would get into an argument with, and tension will escalate to the point of no return, and not only that, but you'd never want to speak to that person again, never ever, even years later....never...Have you?
I think I have.
We met on the internet, then in person, then we had it great for about 8 months, love was in the air, and then in just 2 days together it all collapsed in the ugliest way. According to him I was a very negative person, pretentious, self-centered, looking down on people, rude and emotionless. He wondered how I could possibly have friends.
Well, I know I am not perfect, and I probably did a few things wrong during these two days. Nevertheless, to hear such judgment is harsh. But they say everyone is entitled to their opinion, so I faced the fact that I have no place in this man's life and moved on.
After a while I overcame the pain, but I could not stop was it possible - we got along so well for eight months, and then in just two days something so radically off the charts took place?!
I let time do its healing magic for about two years, and then I decided to call this man again, for the good time's try to bridge the gap filled with questions, hoping I could learn something about people in general, or something about me, or just out of curiosity for human kind.
Well, within the first minute of our phone call I realized some gaps can't be bridged, some gaps will never be closed, and perhaps...they should stay that way. Let them be the lessons from which we learn and grow...and move on!
And so I did, deleting his name and number from my phone.

On the other hand, another man...a random man I see every Saturday on the flower market. He sells flowers. His flowers are just as good as everyone else's are, his prices are just as good as everyone else's are, but he always have less buyers around. And I don't feel the urge to buy from him either...not sure why.
Last Saturday I just stood at the market and watched...he would stand behind his flowers and shout 'Fresh flowers! 3 bunches for 5, 3 bunches for 5!' But as soon as a client gets closer, he would stop shouting, and just stand there still. Not saying a word, not encouraging the people to buy, not offering a suggestion, or just the casual small felt like he didn't have the communication bit going.
I decided to buy from him that day, I tried my handicapped-Dutch, I smiled a lot, I looked into his eyes, I tried to make a connection - a simple connection with another human being. And it worked! At least it seemed to me that his face got a bit brighter , even for that short time, he smiled and it felt good.
I don't think I will always buy my flowers from him, but on that day I decided to do it, for the sake of approching the ones that are probably most troubled and distant from the crowd. And as my Dutch gets better, I will try to chat him up and hear his story...

On that day I bought red peonies - I once read that according to Feng Shui, peony flowers bring love to one's life...and I hope they do, because once loved, we then easily spread love around...and everything falls into place.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sounds and scents in Utrecht

If memory still serves me right, I have moved 28 times in my almost 38 year long life. At times with more excitement, at times just because I had to. Moving a floor or two higher, or thousand of miles away, a move is a move.
As soon as all my boxes are in the new abode, I intuitively tune in to the sounds and the scents it comes with. For some reason (very probably a basic animalistic instinct!) getting familiar with them is my way to bond with the place and start feeling safe, at home. It doesn't matter if it is the humming noise of the fridge, or the smell of a new laminate floor...they simply add some coziness and give the place a unique character.
The sounds of Utrecht are magical!
I don't even know where to begin...
I wake up to the sound of bycicles rushing in the morning, high heels walking the pavement, kids chattering lively on the way to school...or if later in the morning on the weekend - church bells and chimes. I simply loooove the sounds of church bells! Occasionally, I'll hear a rooster...have no idea who has it and where they keep it, but there you go - there are roosters in Utrecht. Even the noisy garbage truck on Friday morning sounds friendly. And if you happen to be in the garden around 7pm, dinner time in the Netherlands, you will hear the familiar sound of silverware and plates through the open windows of the neighbor's apartment cozy!
I moved to Utrecht at the end of March, and they say it's best to move to a new place in Spring time, so you see it at its best. I think I did it right! Spring was in the air - fresh and crispy, filled with the gentle scent of green grass, blooming trees and first flowers, so full of optimism! Then for a week it was the season of white, blue and purple acacia flowers climbing up outside walls and fences. Their light sweet smell is the perfect companion for a late night walk. A week later - lilac bushes were in their prime! Intoxicating scent that makes me close my eye every time I smell a lilac bloom. Haven't you?
Another week of warm weather, and the Queen of all flowers took over the stage. Roses were everywhere and their scent filled the air, much lighter than the lilacs, but so much more refined, as if asking for special attention, as if holding back and playing a game...ok, a rose is a rose! :)
And this week...another magic happens - the Linden trees ("Tilia cordata", started blooming! They really fill the air with such calming sweet scent, so familiar from my childhood, that I can't help it but to smile every time I inhale it. One can also make a delicious tea from the linden tree flowers...but that goes beyond sounds and scents :)
At work, I enjoy listening to the wind going through the crowns of the birch, maple and oak trees under my window. And the occasional ambulance in the distance...:)
At home, I love the company of the birds' songs...not for nothing I live in the Vogelenbuurt ('The Birds' neighborhood')
1. And when for a walk in Griftpark, the most sublime pleasure is to hear the clock tower bells, inhale deeply the cool afternoon air filled with the wisdom of the day, and while looking at the grand Dom tower silhouette, to let the last Sun rays for the day kiss my face with warmth...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Simple pleasures

If wanting to have a British car on the Continent, one inevitably has to change the headlights - it's the law! After numerous phone calls to Toyota, three drives there and five times getting lost in the highway spider web in midst of which Utrecht is placed...I managed to leave my car in the shop, hoping that I did communicate clearly what needs to be done.
And then came the reward for all that hassle - one day rental Toyota Prius!

You know I love my "grand cherry" Toyota Aygo, but ... once you push the start button of the Prius, you know we are talking a whole different game!!!
I had almost forgotten how a real automatic gearbox feels, how fast the acceleration is, how smooth the ride...It's such a feeling!
Very, VERY tempting to take the day off and just drive around the NL highways, and indulge the speed! Who cares that I just attended an OMI Science Meeting talking about air pollution, climate change and such...
The masculine power, the full control, the pleasure of driving a good car...So simple, yet so fun! Even for a day!
And tomorrow ... I'll hop again on the bicycle and pretend to be Dutch :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

my relationship with music

Getty Images

Words are extremely powerful...
and a picture might be worth a thousand words...
but a melody...
it takes you places only you (secretly in your mind) know about...
it brings up feelings (you keep only to yourself) to the surface...
it heals your spirit (that no one knew was broken) like magic...
makes you dream again...
brings life in your veins...
it let you JUST BE...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

so what

..the coat hanger is still laying on top of the shoe cabinet, the lader is still serving as a coat hager - now in the common entry it could well annoy my neghbour...the clock, the 'short cirquit', my portrait are still waiting to be hung on the walls, patio chairs missing, wind constantly blowing away the cherry pattern table cloth, a pile of cables remain unmanaged in the corner...and a few other things not yet tended to ... so what, this chaos is only begging for time.
in my head though, things are amazingly calm - no big plans, no promisses, no stress...things are just going well and I love it...when a smile is the first thing I see when I wake up, and a kiss is next...I feel on top of the world...

Saturday, April 10, 2010


These last few days I let myself wake up whenever my body feels like it...the time or the day matter only so much...I'm in the middle of my month off between jobs, between countries, between lives...
My brain is awake, my body rested, eyes half open... blue sky...from the comfort zone of my Hastens bed I am so positive :)
It's Saturday - Flower Market Day. But before heading out and taking my Dunlop bike for a ride, I'll set the routine for Saturday mornings...
Opened the window for some fresh air, 'Sex and the City' DVD in the player,
coffee maker on, while I'm squeezing two oranges into a glass, cube of ice to cool it, and a glass of water - because it's good for me :)
Quick and simple breakfast - piece of baguette with a couple of slices young Gouda cheese.
The Sun is peeking in already, a few rays reflect in the glass of orange juice as if trying to steal it...I smile.
A second later, in an armchair, I am enjoying a perfect weekend morning in Utrecht ...Good morning, everyone! :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !!!

Another amazing and memorable year is close to its end. In a nutshell, 2009 was all about challenges, perseverance, travel and friends.

With most of my personal life happening over the phone, Skype, email, or overseas...I'd like to thank T-Mobile, British Telecom, FaceBook, and a number of airlines for being where I am - physically and mentally :) Of course, the humongous dose of thanks goes to my friends - the bestest in the world! And all over the world!

Now, if the weather could get just a bit better, so I can fly to Madrid tomorrow, and spend Christmas with family...that would be perfect :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Love, iliana

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pictures, pictures, pictures...

Photo by George Hodan

Hello! I just posted photos from about all my travel adventures this far ;-)
There are may be a couple of more albums to come, hopefully next week.
Going through the albums I not only reminded myself of where I've been and what I've done, but more importantly ... I appreciated yet again having had unforgettable times with greatest friends! Life could be so wonderful!
I would like to add commentary to some albums, but let's see how much free time I'd find after Yoga, Dutch, Swimming...and good'o'DVD watching ;)
As for photos from year 2008 ... patience! :)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...Happy 4th of July!!!

 Anna Strock

It was the morning of Christmas day, December 25th 1999.
The first day I stepped on American land - Chicago, Illinois.
The fatigue from my first transatlantic flight, an almost sleepless Christmas night at Frankfurt's airport, all the worried thoughts about what I left behind and what was all vanished into the crispy air of a glorious sunny day - my first day in America!
'Like everyone who travels towards a new life in a land they've never seen, I wondered how much of me would survive the crossing, how translatable I would be.
Every migration is an opportunity and a kind of death. The new world may be rich and strange, but you're somehow weightless in it.
The freedom to be weightless here gave us all, I felt, en masse, a paradoxal solidity.' ... I can't agree more with Rob Nixon (Dreambirds).
Nine and a half years later...I am celebrating my first Independence Day as a citizen of the United States of America! And I feel very happy about it!
Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oranjegekte...or... Happy Koninginnedag!

Having learned Dutch for already about 5 months, in the eve of Koninginnedag, here are some of my favorite Dutch words. Bear in mind I don't know many yet ;)
Mijn naam is haas

Groetjes! :)

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Happy New Year!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Red Scream

Today I want to scream...
Loud scream, reaching the corners of the Universe...
High pitch scream, so you can't ingore it...
Sincere scream, venting the frustration of the caged soul I had become lately...
a soul that is nothing but a scream for freedom...
OK now, that feels better...I am calm and I can smile :)
The color of this year is RED .
Because red is the color of blood, fire and passion...
Because blood, fire and passion are proxies for life...
And because I am alive!
ps.Sincere thank you to all of you friends, aquantances or random people and events who helped me go through the motions and find my color again!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...Arg!

Photo: Charter
I had enough of it already!
After a month of snow, shoveling for an hour each day becomes "the usual", but when you have to shovel 9 inches of fresh wet snow twice a day, and your car get stuck again!'s a bit too much!
Luckily, with Nadia and Huyjin around, all could be turned into fun, so....
Here is me shoveling stoically -

And here is Nadia -

Huyjin said she would rather stay inside and see the videos on YouTube.
Smart girl!


Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!!

I hope you had a nice Christmas... or a nice Holiday Season!
My apologies go to all who expected a Christmas card from me - I was away from home and not able to send cards this year, but in the Christmas eve, after the party lights went down, in the silence of a warm starry night I thought of all of you and wished you well!

I found this picture of Lake Oulujärvi (by Timo Rossi), to be an appropriate way to say good bye to 2007! The tiny silhouette on the horizon is the island of Uupunu. It means exhausted in English. Why this picture?
Between the beginning of the year in Paris and celebrating Christmas in Madrid, I had an interesting, but so intense year that on the 365th day of it I am a bit exhausted and ready to exhale. There were good times and bad times, a lot was learned through new, amazing and unexpected experiences, made some new friends, strengtened the bonds with some of you, some old ties broke for better or worse, spent some sleepless nights at work in hope for Eureka! , witnessed a lot of airplane exhaust over the on the go!
But as long as I am in peace with myself, capable of loving unconditionally, and have my friends...everything will be ok. So my New Year resolution is simple - I am asking for peace and...Love!

I didn't have the time to write a 2007 Roundup letter, but I may post soon details on some of my travel - the passion of my life! At least, you will get a chance to see another few hundreds of photos :)

Until then, have an enjoyable New Year's eve and a splendid
HAPPY NEW 2008!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

11 minutes

Paulo Coelho gained popularity with a number of books in the recent years, but one book has a special place in my heart - 11 minutes.
Somehow it feels it is the right time to offer his story of why he wrote this book.
Relax, you don't have to read it...just take 11 minutes or less and read the story.
Hope you enjoy it!
* * *
Ever since literature began, writers around the world have written about sex; from Egypt to Greece to Japan, sex remains one of our main preoccupations. Yet despite the thousands of books published on the subject, we still understand nothing about it, and I'm not sure that Eleven Minutes will necessarily make much difference either, because when it comes to sexuality, the only real victory would be to drive out the lie that inhabits our imagination, and this will only happen once we find the courage to try, and possibly fail, to tell the truth about what we feel. We men lack the courage to say to a woman: teach me about your body. And women, likewise, never say to us: learn about me and my body. We are stuck with the primitive survival instinct of the species, with the fake freedom of being able to speak openly about the subject at any restaurant table, only to discover, within the four walls of a room, that we are frightened, insecure, fragile animals. What should be a magic moment becomes an act of self-blame, a sense that we have fallen short of the other person's expectations. We forget that this is one of the few situations in our lives from which the word 'expectation' should be banned.

During my own lifetime, I have experienced sex in many different and contradictory ways. I was born into a conservative age, when virginity was the defining characteristic of any decent young woman. I witnessed the emergence of the contraceptive pill and of antibiotics, both indispensable for the sexual revolution that would follow. I plunged enthusiastically into the hippy era, when we went to the other extreme, with free love being practised at rock concerts. I now find myself in an age which is half-conservative, half-liberal, an age haunted by a new disease resistant to all antibiotics, a time when no one knows quite where they are going.

We live in a world of standardised behaviour: there are standards for beauty, for quality, for intelligence and efficiency. We believe there is a model for everything and that, by following this model, we will be safe, which is why there is a sexual standard too, one made up, in fact, of a series of lies: vaginal orgasm, virility above all else, that it's better to pretend than to disappoint, etc. As a direct consequence of this attitude, thousands of people have been left feeling frustrated, unhappy and guilty.

It is part of a writer's role to reflect on his or her own life, and writing a book about sexuality came to be a priority with me. At first, I thought I could deal directly with it by describing an ideal relationship between two people; I tried various approaches, but all failed. It was only when I met the prostitute who would provide the connecting thread for this novel that I realised why I couldn't write the story: in order to write about sublime sex, I had to start where we all start - with the fear that everything will go wrong.

Eleven Minutes does not set out to be a manual or a treatise about a man and a woman confronted by the unknown world of sexual relationships. It is an analysis of my own trajectory, although without, in any way, passing judgement on my own experiences. It took me a long time to learn that the coming together of two bodies is more than just a response to certain physical stimuli or to the survival instinct of the species. The truth is that it carries within it all the cultural baggage of mankind and humanity.

Sex is one of the areas of our lives in which it is considered normal to lie. We lie in order to give pleasure to the other person, not realising that this lie can - and will - infect all the other important things in life. We forget that sex is a manifestation of a spiritual energy called love.

It is very difficult to put this realisation into practice, but we must try. The first thing to understand is that during the sexual act there are two opposing states working alongside each other: relaxation and tension.

How can we reconcile these two states? Very simple - stop being afraid of making mistakes. If we embark on the search for pleasure wholeheartedly, sincerely, we gradually feel the body becoming tense as the string of an archer's bow, while the mind relaxes like the arrow preparing itself to be released. The brain is no longer in control of the process, which is guided instead by the heart. And the heart uses all five senses to reveal itself to the other person: touch, smell, sight, hearing, taste are all involved, just as they are in experiences of religious ecstasy. It is strange that, in most sexual encounters, people use only touch and sight, and by doing so diminish that sense of plenitude.

If you give yourself entirely, you will break through any mental block your partner may have, however impenetrable, because the act of giving yourself means: 'I trust you.' At that moment, real sexual energy comes into play, and that energy exists not only in those areas we term the erogenous zones. It spreads throughout the whole body, into every hair and every pore. Every millimetre is now emanating a different light, one that is recognised and absorbed by the other body.

When this happens, we are drawn into a kind of ancient ritual that offers us the opportunity to be transformed. Any ritual, of whatever sort, requires from the participant a readiness to be led towards a new perception of the world. And it is this willingness that gives the ritual meaning.

This may all seem overly complex, but it is far less so than treating sex as it is treated today, as a mere mechanical act, which creates tension during sex and a feeling of emptiness afterwards. We must become aware that, when two bodies meet, they are walking together into unknown territory. To make this into an utterly banal experience is to lose all the wonder of the adventure.

But none of this can be learned from a book, which can only share with the reader the author's own experiences or views. Sex means, above all, having the courage to experience your own paradoxes, your own individuality, your willingness to surrender yourself. That is why I wrote Eleven Minutes, in order to find out if, at this stage of my life, at 55 years of age, I had the courage to learn everything that life has tried to teach me on the subject.

*Copyright 2003 by Paulo Coelho
All Rights Reserved

* * *

Beautiful Karlsruhe

Beautiful Karlsruhe ... if only I had a chance to see it! :)
AMMA was a great conference, but when the bus picks you up every day at 7:30am and drops you at the hotel between 8pm and 1am...sorry for the sarcasm :)
My feeling is that the city is nice, but will have to confirm and get back to you on that one. For sure it has a couple of nice breweries, a few decent bars and a live Chrismat market in Decemnber :) Oh, and don't forget the zoo, which for some reason takes a central place in the city layout.
But again, truth to be said, Karlsruhe has its charm!
Tonight was the first and only night to get to glipmse at the city, and to have my second gluehwein for the season. Prost!
Lesson of the night: the more one sips from the cup, the more handsome the men seem, the easier German language gets, the warmer the weather becomes ...from the inside out :)
Well, Karlsruhe offered a few more memorabilia events, but ... what happens at AMMA stays within AMMA, so... ;)
Viva La Ciencia!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Beaware of the data ports

In the nowadays high-tech society, comunication via the internet is 'the usual'.
E-mails, Instant Messages, Text Messages...I was in fact pleasanty surprised that pen-pal societies (meaning paper letters) still exist.
Today though I want to share the experience of how the high-tech and the good'o' tet-a-tet chit-chat could work out well together. As I was surfing the net during the conference coffee break a colleague asked to share the power outlet I used and also the wireless data port 'juicing up' our browsers.
One thing led to another and before you know it I made a friend.
A friend full of zest for life, energy, charming smile, wit, sincerety beyound limits and awesome sense of hummor. What more!
'Count your blessings!' he said to me and I think I'll count him as one.
Have a safe ride home!

"What is a friend? I will tell is someone with whom
you dare to be yourself." - Frank Crane

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tis the Weihnachtsmarkt season

Arriving in Germany on November 25th is a briliant idea!
This is the day when the Christmas markets are all set up and ready to open the next day and welcome the crowds of local and tourists that have patiently waited a year to come again and have a cup (or more) Glühwein, mingle with people, enjoy a conversation and revive the Chrismas spirit! I love it! So I do it...already a second year in a row :)
First stop again is Frankfurt. Sauli and I agreed that the Glühwein taste is an accumulative function proportional to the number of wine sips one has, i.e.
the more you drink, the better it tastes. Prost!
Soon to be hit... Karlsrhue, Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Koln, Strasburg, Saarbruken...and Madrid. Wait, that is not in Germany...well, yes, so? :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pictures, pictures....TONS of pictures :)

In a week I am heading to Europe again...
And before the year is over, I think it is only fare to let you see the photos from the last 12 or so months. I am using a new host now - Shutterfly

Albums do not appear in crohonological order, but once I figure out all the features Shutterfly has to offer, I'll set some order...or may be not :)

Appologies for the tons of pictures, but I hope each of you find something to enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A sunset in flamingo colors...

...and one day, your sunsert is colored in flamingo colors.
The pink flamingos are lesurely trading the watter and the sky is the same gentle color. The world around you is as fragile as a hand blown glass, and you think that what you want is a stretch away...literary...but it's not! It's painfully close and so far away...outside of reach...but yet so tempting and so making you feel the butterflies...In times like that the Flowers and the Litz do help...they totally distract you from reallity...and that's ok , we are in speaks lowder than anythingh...and the sky is in flanmingo colors...ostrige soft plums are wrapping my naked body and I am in a bliss with the sky....and the rest seems surreal...50 years old dream is in front of my eyes...and I don't even get jelous...the night is quite, but tension of unknown kind is tearing the skies in lightnings....
I'm destined to my life, just as pause, no break, no credit...Flamingos are pretty....