Sunday, May 06, 2007

Got to have a crisis now

I've had many "I've got to post about this" moments lately (= during the past month or so) and no time to actually sit down and properly write anything. And consequently, I've forgotten most of the things anyway. (I'm hearing many virtual sighs of relief, heh.) But today I'll try to collect the pieces of my mind that have been scattered around and put them down in a blog post form. Sorry if the end result is a mess. :)

Life doesn't always follow deadlines

Some weeks ago I went to the movies with mom. (We saw Music and Lyrics, since mom likes Hugh Grant, hee.) I waited for her in the cafe next to the theatre and browsed through a City mag while sipping my latte. There was a short story (more like a poll, really) for which a bunch of young people had been interviewed about what is the age they want to have children at.

Yeah, you can guess I let out a silent hrmpf into my coffee mug. When you ask a 17-year-old a question like that, the answer is likely to make a (nearly) 30-year-old single feel very old. "Yes, I'd like to have my children before I'm 28 years old, so I won't be too old and tired to take care of them when they are small." Hellooo, I'm not exactly dead yet, either...

But yes, it seems I'm really getting into this whole cliched crisis of turning 30. You know, even though I have no particular "baby fever" at the moment, there is no escaping the fact that I don't have forever to procreate (yeah, boohoo, only like 10 more years of time...), should I want to try it some day. (Yes, yes, a few minor details have to be settled first, like finding the proper husband / dad material...) Take that thought, add the tiredness caused by work, season with a hint of fear of being alone forever and you have all the incredients for my worst moments. (At this point I need to stress that most of the time I feel just fine, no worries!)

The worst part of this darned "crisis" is that it gets worse when I compare my life with the lives of my friends. Yes, it's the last thing one should do, because there's no one formula for a good life - and no deadlines (well, if one doesn't count the one non-negotiable absolute last deadline, eh). And I know this perfectly well. It just doesn't stop me from comparing. I'm only human, after all.

And what's there to compare? Well, at least 6 babies on their way into the families of my friends within the next 6 months. Argh. It's like the Finnish saying about mushrooms in the rain. I've also described it as the "plop, plop" effect, heh.

I'm really, really happy for all my friends for their pregnancies and I certainly hope everything goes well for everyone, but I'm feeling more and more like an outsider. The odd one out.
I'm running out of friends who are in even a remotely similar situation in life with me. Not only does it make me feel super lonely sometimes (even though I'm really not lonely in the normal sense, I've got plenty of friends, after all), but it also makes it increasingly difficult to plan social activities with those friends. They all get very tired around 9 p.m., can't drink any alcohol, can't get babysitters etc. *sigh* (Love you all anyway, my dahlin' preggers friends who will become my dahlin' friends with tiny babycritters!)

This is not a unique problem I'm having, I'm sure, but that doesn't make it any less significant in my life at the moment.

Ok, I got that out of my system for a while. Thanks for listening. Erm, reading.

On a related note, however...

Right. Consider this. I'm in an age crisis. Which has to be obvious to anyone who read the rant above.

One possible cure would be finding The Right Husband Material. Problem is, it's been a Mission Impossible so far.

Another possible cure is to get the heck out of these old circles, shake things up a bit. That's something I can and will do.

First of all, there's the trip to the UK this summer. It's the first time in my adult life when I have saved up a whole lot of money (yay for proper salaries!) to travel outside of Finland on my own (or with a friend, rather) and I'm seriously thinking it's going to do me a world of good to see something outside my comfort zone between Nousiainen and Turku...

Secondly, the matters have come to the point where I'm facing the fact that I can't live in this apartment forever. It's owned by my grandparents and since grandpa is in a very bad shape now and has to live in a senior citizens' home (specialized in taking care of patients with advanced Alzheimers and dementia), this apartment is a piece of property that may have to be liquidated in order to pay for his care and grandma's living. I've thought about buying it myself, but unfortunately it may be too expensive for me, even though it's not in perfect shape. And there is also the option that grandma will be moving here, because she won't be able to live in the big house alone. In both cases, I'm outta here.

Anyway, this means I'm now apartment hunting. I'm looking for an apartment roughly the same size as this one is, because I refuse to downgrade a whole lot from my current roomy arrangements. I'd like the new apartment to be a "through-the-building" apartment, with a proper balcony, if possible. Windows on both sides of the building make it easier to get an extra bit of "air-conditioning" in the summer, as I've noticed in this apartment. A sauna might be a nice addition to the comforts of living, too. It'd also be nice for it to be on the Eastern side of Turku, I'm especially interested in a few specific parts of the town. I'm hoping my "requirements" aren't too impossible to reach with my budget. Schedulewise I've thought that it might be nice to celebrate the upcoming big birthday (in October) in a new apartment. Or perhaps a new year's party?

In any case, I have that one little writing project to finish before that. With the new topic I'm fairly confident that it'll be done by mid-August, when school begins again. With that done, my salary is going to climb up a few notches and the monthly process of paying back the huge (!!) loan will be easier.

And I'm going to buy a car at the same time. Yay for not being dependent on coworkers' schedules when going back and forth to work!

Talking about severe methods of going from an age crisis into a crisis of "OMG I can't believe I have a loan of bazillion euros to pay back!". But at least I can count on all of this to make me preoccupied enough to not worry about being single. Too much. *grin*

On for something completely different - Vikings and Indians!

This is turning out to be a wonderful spring of theatre entertainment for me. Two weeks ago we went to Tampere with some junior high students to see a play called Kun isoisä Suomeen hiihti ("When grandfather skied to Finland"), last night I went to the city theatre here in Turku with a few friends (only one of them preggers - but with twins, heh) to see the musical Thorin vasara ("Thor's Hammer") and this coming Thursday we'll be going to Helsinki to see Midsummer Night's Dream with the senior high students.

The first play, in Tampere, was a story of a Finnish Jewish family from the last years of Finnish autonomy to the end of the wars (ca. 1905 - 1945). I was a little worried about what the students would get out of it, but at least a few of my students were very excited about the whole experience. And they were able to follow the historical side of the story as well, since we'd just discussed the Finnish wars in class. I thought the play was alright, nothing spectacular, though. I liked the musical numbers, there was enough of the traditional klezmer-music sound to the songs to appeal to my taste of ethnic music. Other than that, the whole production was somehow forgettable. The actors were doing a solid job, but no one really stood out. What I think was most important about the story was to remind everyone that the Finnish Jews couldn't rely on being completely safe in Finland during WWII.

Last night's adventure in the land of Vikings was interesting. I had heard terrible bashings of the production (for example, a history teacher I know had absolutely hated the story and claimed it was utter rubbish etc.), but I was still in a positive frame of mind when the lights went off.

And I'm still in a fairly positive frame of mind about the play. I was entertained, even if not thrilled by it. I loved the pyrotechnics used in the staging (nothing cooler, eh, hotter than to have an actual burning funeral boat gliding through the stage or to have actual fire flare up in the scene where the main characters meet the dwarven smiths on their way to Valhalla), as well as the utterly cool viking ship that rocked gently on the stage in a few scenes. Not to mention the male lead's, erm, fine leather outfit and appearance in general. Vallu Lukka, mm-mmm.

What was disappointing was the music. I had thought based on the promo material that it'd be more "primal", more ethnic. Instead there were only a few pieces that had a proper Viking sound & attitude and most of the songs were bland musical "schlagers". I didn't manage to suppress a giggle, when in one of the more tragical scenes (Sigurd's, the male lead's, body is washed up on the beach and the Viking villagers find it) the lyrics of the song went something like "Whose is this bloated corpse we see stranded here?" You don't get that too often in a musical (nor a half a dozen synonyms for the private parts of men, like in one song, heh) ...

Anyhow, this musical had the same problem as Elisabeth did. Excellent singers, blah songs for them to sing.

And the story? Yeah, well, it was like a jigsaw puzzle. Bits of this and that (Vikings capturing an Indian girl and bringing her to their lands, drinking of mead, scheming gods, a surreal trip to the underworld etc.), hints of "this theme could've been dealt with in depth also, but well, we didn't" (those themes would include otherness, clash of cultures and religions etc.) and definitely no high ambitions about historical accuracy. Sure, the play could be "dated" roughly to the 11th century, when Christianity began to weed out the old pagan beliefs in Scandinavia and yes, Vikings did sail to America before Columbus did, but naturally all of these details had been worked into the fictional story, sometimes quite loosely. But heck, I don't go to the theatre to watch staged history documentaries, but to see what someone has created with the help of a vivid imagination. (I bet the teacher who hadn't liked the story at all has never read any fantasy...)

So, all in all, an enjoyable evening at the theatre with friends.

For Thursday (haha, Thor's Day!) I'll try to forget the Viking world and be ready for the tricks of Titania and Puck & co. I hope it'll be a good version of the play. I've never seen it on stage before, just as a movie (and read it, of course).

Oops, I've spent quite a while writing all this - I've got to get back to work! I'm sooo looking forward to summer vacation! Less than 20 days of work anymore, only one full & normal week. YAY! I'm in serious need of not seeing the students for a long while. Gaah.

When vacation begins, I hope I'll have a bit more time for blogging, too. I'll at least try to post stuff from my trip, but at the moment I'm not sure if I'll do it here or over at LJ. In any case, I'll post pics and such afterwards in both places. But I'm sure you'll hear from me before I head to London and then to Wales. :)

Now, work.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Am I in the target group?

This past weekend was a busy one for me. (Umm, so what else is new?) First there was the cruise I was on as a "guardian" to our junior students and then on Sunday a visit to an event for women at a local conference hotel.

The cruise went well. One of my colleagues was with me (plus some students' parents) and we had a delightfully relaxing 24 or so hours. Dined well on Friday evening at the fancy restaurant, partied till 2.30 a.m. and slept in till almost midday. Did some shopping, smiled at the headachy students who were hanging about in various states of well-being and had another good meal in the buffet with some of the students (they were mostly feeling pretty good, I suppose) and then got home in time for some cleaning up of the apartment. Very respectable.

During the cruise I and my colleague pondered a lot about the curious role we're in as young teachers. First of all, being a teacher sometimes brings up the fierce lioness in us. You know, the kind of ultimate feeling of responsibility and protectiveness towards the young people that would normally be linked with parenthood. Neither of us has children of our own, but we still both have had those feelings of "Do not make me act all teacher-y on you! Because I will, if you don't treat these kids well!" with the students. It really is very odd to feel like that about youngsters one doesn't really know that well after all.

On the other hand, the kids certainly treat us in a more formal way (as is appropriate) than for example the parents who were also on the cruise as guardians. It's not like it's a surprise, but for someone obviously closer to the students' age than the parents are, it's funny to be in a situation where even the parents probably considered us as some sort of authorities. Even though we're only in our late 20's. (I'm trying to avoid thinking I'll be 30 this October, yikes.) But for heaven's sake, we're teachers!

It's an odd feeling of somehow sudden professionalism (meaning I still sometimes wonder if I'm actually adult enough to be a teacher...) to notice that teachers are treated a bit differently and that I also interact a bit differently with all kinds of people thanks to my "status" as a teacher. It's a combination of reservation, no-nonsense and roleplaying. And oh my how the students must've thought we teachers were nuts (or just plain embarrassing) when we danced in the nightclub for almost 3 hours straight. All through stuff like Snoop Dogg, 50cent and whathaveyou.

There was even one young guy (not one of our students) who, for some reason still not clear to me, came to me and asked in an honestly puzzled tone "Do you also listen to this kind of music?" The DJ was playing some hiphop song at the moment and I was having a blast "shaking my booty" to it. I just kinda stared at the guy and blurted out something like "Of course I do." I mean, why wouldn't I? Because I'm ancient compared to an 18-year-old? Did I perhaps look even older than nearly 30? Gosh, it still bugs me that I didn't ask him why he asked. :)

Am I not in the target group for hiphop? Probably not, if one thinks about it really, but hey, I don't plan on gathering moss on my way to the bigger numbers. And I have a background of 10 years of oriental dancing.

Anyway, we young teachers survived the cruise, as did our young students and their older parents, too. Fun was had by all (at least as far as I was able to tell) and we teachers got to do some professional self-analysing on the way. And got to be "bourgeois" while at it, too. Heh. Fancy dinners, a bottle of respectable port for "souvenir" and a taxi home.

The event on Sunday was the other thing that got me thinking what the society expects (or seems to expect) of a woman my age. I got free tickets to the NaisDay event from a Celtic Jewellery seller I bought some Christmas presents from. (For those of you who speak English, a short explanation is in place: "Nais" in Finnish is pronounced as "nice" is pronounced in English, but it conveniently has the actual meaning of "relating to women". In other words, the silly Finnish-English name of the event implies both "a nice day" and "a women's day". Pretty nifty, eh? Well, not really. I personally don't like the Finglishms or whatever you might call these mutations of two languages mixed up in one name.)

Aaanyway. I spent a couple of hours browsing through the stalls & watching a couple of performances with my friend - bought a bottle of hairspray and a Celtic brooch for my new scarf. Other than that, the best part of the whole event was the short drag show we saw. It was funny, had really fast costume changes and some pretty fine dancing.

But why is it that I'm expected to want to host all sorts of Tupperware/clothing line/cosmetics/candle/sex toy parties? Sure, I've been to some myself, but I honestly don't feel like I'd like to host one. Not in the very near future, anyway.

Or why is it somehow expected that when I go to an event for women, I'd want to see a psychic? There was a section of "spiritual growth" -related stalls in one corner of the conference center and we couldn't be bothered to even check it out. I'm sorry to say this but I honestly feel like fortune telling and whatever combined with an event like this is almost insulting - how gullible do they think I am?

Or perhaps I don't fit into the target group in this, either. My friend and I may just fit into a small minority of non-believers, boring feet-to-the-ground kinda women. Perhaps the "every woman" likes to go to the fortune teller's desk and hear how her life is going to have a turn to better in the near future. Or maybe the fortune telling is a bad example. If it was free, I'd probably be ok with listening to some mumbojumbo about my future, too. Just for silly amusement. But I wouldn't want to try an ear candle treatment, for example. Which in my books sounds certainly like the kind of rubbish I wouldn't want to try even for amusement, even if it didn't cost a thing.

I'm always amused by magazine sellers, though. They usually start by asking which mag I'd like to order and then they list half a dozen of mags like Cosmopolitan and Gloria. My honest answer? At the moment I wouldn't pay for any of them. Once I did order Cosmo (when the Finnish version was first published), but I found it to be utter waste of time and certainly insulting to my intelligence most of the time. Most of the other mags for women fall into the same category. Sure, I read them when I'm at the hairdresser's, but to order one of them? Nope, no thanks. I'd rather read National Geographic, the Finnish science mag Tiede or the movie mag Empire. Any day. Not surprisingly, they didn't have those available at the event, so I did not order Gloria for 7 months for 25,50 euros. Thanks, but no thanks.

So, I guess I'm not the target group most of the time. Too old for hiphop, too educated (or something) for bogus spiritual treatments and too something (young? nerd?) for MeNaiset-magazine... And yet I am a single woman, soon 30, live in a city and have a respectable job. I fall between target groups in a very odd and effective way. I bet some of you do too.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Still alive here despite the long silence

Oh wow. The year really got to a flying start, didn't it? The whole of January and almost half a February gone before I get the first post of the year in. And I still don't have much to say, I'm afraid.

Which will probably tell you what I've been up to lately. Yup, work, work, work. The Christmas break was long waited for and sorely needed, and I'm equally happy that there's the winter vacation coming in a week. Yay for vacations! (Not that work has been bad lately, it's just nice to get out of the reach of the students every once and a while, just to have some time for myself.)

Vacations are always something to look forward to (I can't, for example, wait till my summertrip to London and Wales with my friend in June), but at its best work is highly motivating in itself, too. Especially when people give you good feedback on work well done. I got some of that last week and it made my day. The compliments even included a strong hint I might be asked to continue working at the school for at least one more year. Yay! I certainly hope that's going to happen. I really like my "deal" at the moment, combining history, Finnish and tutoring. And if the principals like my input, I'm more than happy to get one more year of work experience from this school.

But this brings forth the nearly eternal problem of finally graduating. I took a pretty serious step forward in that matter today, I'll know more next week. I'm getting so sick and tired of the ghost of the thesis looming behind me all the time that I'm forced to face a few facts in order to get the darned thing to go away. One of them being the fact that work takes most of my time and the thesis has to be done somewhere in between. Which is not a whole lot of time or energy. But if everything goes well, I'll be able to begin ghostbusting for real pretty soon. Keep your fingers crossed, I'll keep you posted.

Ah, better be going now, got to plan some lessons for the week. Ta ta.