Sunday, August 13, 2006

Back to school

Ok, it's time to get into the "back to work" -mood. Tomorrow we have teachers' planning day and on Tuesday school begins for the students also.

Having taken relaxation very seriously last night with Tytti I suppose I'm ready. Sure, it'd be nice to have another two and a half months of peaceful research time, without work related worries, but that'd be called unemployment (or being filthy rich) and as such is not an option at the moment.

So I've spent the day sorting out my papers (should've naturally done that earlier, eh) and doing very light planning work. I guess I'll be ok, once again. And at least I have one thing going for me tomorrow - I still have my brother's cool car (I'm most generously being allowed to borrow it for the time being), because he hasn't been able to sell it yet. So I can drive to work myself! Yay! I feel a bit ashamed to say it, but I hope it takes him a while to sell it, so I can use it for a little while longer...

Ah, better get back to work, then. I have to get most of these papers sorted out by tonight's episode of Bones...

Hmm, when's the next vacation again? :)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Reflections and ramblings

Recently some of my friends have had to do some reflecting on their lives and priorities. How much of personal resources can be used to hobbies, such as being active in various societies, how can one guarantee that there is enough quality time with spouse / family, what kind of requirements does work set, how to manage with limited income and so on. The serious, real life stuff, you know.

These reflections are necessary in life every once and a while, if not for anything else, then for the simple reason that it's not possible to reflect without standing still for a moment. And stillness is a rare luxury in today's world. People dash around looking busy, feeling stressed out and probably achieving less than they could, because they have too many things they're trying to do at one time.

I think I'm very much in the middle of a situation like that. Granted, I don't have a family (meaning a husband and kids of my own) to worry about, but I definitely recognise the feeling of (false) inadequacy, which is the result of having too much to do almost at any given moment. False inadequacy, because I know these things aren't in any way impossible for me to do. But seems they are impossible to do simultaneously, eh. Like reading thesis related books, exam books and planning upcoming lessons at the same time. There's the tiny little limit of not having three sets of eyes, hands and brains to deal with everything at once.

Sure, these are just questions of organising one's time a little better. In this case it may mean I'll skip the exam, because I just haven't had time to study for it (I very nearly broke down in frustrated tears today, trying to understand the damnable economics stuff) and concentrate on doing lesson plans. And since school starts next Monday, the thesis stuff will be limited mostly to weekends from now on, anyway. So, in theory, problem solved - only that if I skip the exam, I'm probably moving the date of my graduation once again further down into the future. Argh. (But if I do go to the exam not having read enough, I won't pass anyway and I end up in the same situation after having "wasted" several hours to trying to scramble through the materials, whereas I could've used the hours for working on the lessons... Sheesh.)

And school then, oh my. It's really quite ridiculous that I'm getting nervous about it again. I should know by now that it's work I'm fully capable of doing (and I'm not too bad at it, either - if I may say so myself), and yet the feelings of doubt and insecurity are back. I wonder how many years of teaching will it take to get rid of this...

I suppose it'll get easier when I've taught all the courses through at least once. Now I have 8th grade history and 9th grade social studies that are completely new to me. I've taught bits and pieces of them, but never the full year. And even the start of the 7th grade history is foreign territory to me, since I didn't teach it last year. In other words, come next Tuesday I'll have three completely new courses beginning, which means quite a lot of work in the evenings for me. Yikes.

Ok, so if I now had to list my current priorities in life, the list could be made very short and simple. (It could also be made a long, rambling list of many things, but I'll keep it simple for now.)
1. Graduating asap, no excuses
2. Doing my best at work, trying to motivate the students and be a good teacher (preferably without sky high stress levels, or 14 hour work days, pretty please?)
3. Maintaining meaningful friendships, because friends keep me sane (and since I don't have a boyfriend to spend quality time with, my friends are my quality time)
4. Family (I have to make time for grandma&grandpa, since grandpa is not going to be around for long anymore)
5. Hobbies (dividing time between rehearsing for one more dance recital to be held in October, editing a fanzine and so on...).

In other words, at this moment my work and my research go before everything. I expect I'll have to seriously cut down my responsibilities elsewhere. For example I'm pretty sure I won't be editing Spin next year anymore. I just don't have the time, sorry to say it.

And that's one heck of an important lesson to learn. To learn to recognise the limits of one's resources. I know I'm having a hard time with it, and some of my friends struggle (or have struggled) with similar problems. The core of the problem is (at least for me) that it's fun to participate and be active, but if there aren't enough people who share that attitude, the workload soon becomes too heavy to handle.

But on the other hand, a simple, stressless life would be awfully boring, right?

After all this seriousness, I'm off to watch Gerard Butler as Attila the Hunn. Heh. That'll keep my thoughts off anything too serious for a while.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Fantastic times

Last weekend was the Fantasy Feast weekend. FF is a tradition of the Turku SF society and this was the seventh time the Feast was organised.

Basically, it's a weekend spent in Sauvo, where the City of Turku has a youth camp center by the sea. People come (dressed in medievalish / fantasy outfits) to relax, participate in different kinds of games and activities, sing, dance, eat and generally have a good time.

This was the second time I was involved in organising the Feast and it was a nice experience, once again - even though the fewer organisers meant a whole lot of working hours per person and ridiculously sore feet for most of us. (I still walk a bit stiffly...) But what's a little pain, if the people who paid to visit the Feast were happy? It seemed that especially the kids who were present had had a brilliant time. I bet they'll have some fun memories.

The most of my Saturday was spent on the beach, under a truly scorching sun. First there was the Tournament and then I supervised a couple of hours of archery practice. No shade anywhere and it must've been closer to 35 Celsius (maybe even more?) , which is a little bit too much for me, too. I generally don't mind heat, but in this weather I'd rather stay in the shade, not under direct sunlight.

Anyway, nobody got hurt while trying out the longbow and the crossbow and I was able to try out my own bow & arrows properly. Seems that I have managed to make arrows that fly pretty swiftly without any wobbling and the bow is beginning to feel, well, mine. Yay me! Too bad I only just realised I should've asked someone to take a few photos of me with my archery gear... Oh well, maybe next time.

For a fantasy fan and a silly romantic like me the FF weekend is a perfect escape from the routines of everyday life. I simply love to see what kind of outfits people have, for example. This time we had as visitors a Shaman, a very impressive Black Wizard with his lady, a group of renaissance style Highwaymen, a few Tudor style noblemen, a Fool, a Wood Nymph, A Barbarian, several beautiful elven and human ladies and so on. It's so nice to see that many people clearly put time and serious effort into their costumes.

On Saturday night, after we had closed the Jumping Dragon Inn at midnight, I wandered to the dark beach wrapped in my cloak, just to watch the stars. If there are moments that are magical, that was certainly one of them. The starry sky (with an occasional shooting star!), the sea, the splashes of fish in the shallow water, the solitary cries of birds... It wasn't all quiet this time, since the Black Wizard was further down the beach playing his tin whistle, which suited the atmosphere just fine. So there I was, wrapped in several metres of purple velvet, under the stars... Very meditative and relaxing - a definite highlight of my weekend. And honestly, if a hobby can offer me moments like these, I can happily remain a romantic and a wannabe elf. :)

Here are a few photos from the Feast. Not very many of them, since I really didn't have time to take that many pics, since I was busy with my duties as an organiser.

This is me wearing the medieval(ish) outfit I made myself. I'm standing in front of the Jumping Dragon Inn.

Wizard Pyroforius was kind enough to perform a spell to light the fire. And a powerful spell it was, too. The blast of flames was huge. This pic, however, is taken a few moments after the biggest burst.

Visitors hanging out at the main square.

A view from the beach, at dusk.

Yours truly, once again. (Did I mention I love that cloak?)

A lady and a courtier.

Like father, like daughter. I was told later that she thought the FF Saturday had been the best day of the summer. How sweet is that?

See how these little wizards are having the time of their lives!

And here are the organisers on Sunday. Tired, but happy.

I don't have any pics from any of the actual events, such as the Tournament, but if you'd like to see more of the Feast, you can visit Tero's Fantasy Feast pic gallery or Pasi's Fantasy Feast pic gallery.

I'm probably completely nutters for saying this, but I'm looking forward to the next time. My thanks go out to everyone who came to the Feast and had a good time and of course to my fellow organisers. I hope to see you all again in, umm, perhaps 2008? ;)